Will Roy return to his lofty status as an elite shooting guard? Will he flounder and show that maybe retirement was a better option?
Here’s why Roy’s return to the basketball’s biggest stage is an under-the-radar story to follow.
Roy’s divorce from the Portland Trail Blazers wasn’t pretty. Was he retiring? Was Blazers management shoving him out the door?
Technically, Roy did not retire. Portland waived him with their amnesty clause, wiping his $63 million contract from their salary cap figure. Owner Paul Allen is still paying Roy that figure, but waiving Roy gave the Blazers much more financial flexibility.
However, Roy’s “career-ending” injury was diagnosed by Portland’s doctors, not just Roy himself. According to Roy, Portland wanted him to retire in order to be able to remove his salary under the medical retirement clause. Even if Roy himself didn’t want to call it a career quite yet.
Said Roy in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda, “It was never really officially my decision to retire, you know? It was never a situation where I said, 'I'm done forever.' It's just more of a pause."
Roy has no beef with the fans or media in Portland, but he likely harbors some cold feelings towards management and the medical staff.
The full details of Roy’s departure are not yet known, but it sounds like Roy will do anything but take it easy on his former club. Considering the two teams both reside in the NBA’s Northwest division, Roy will have plenty of opportunities to show that he’s more than able to still play in the NBA.
Roy will be playing his best against the Blazers like previously mentioned, but will he prove Portland’s doctors wrong?
Retirement drama aside, Roy still has no cartilage in his knee, and his meniscus will never grow back. It’s not ideal circumstances for anyone, let alone a player competing night in and night out in the fast-paced and physical NBA.
Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul have both experienced turmoil with their knees, but neither has had six knee injuries and all four menisci removed like Roy.
If Roy plays 40 minutes in a game, the pain in his knees could become excruciating. If he plays three games in four nights at that pace, the pain in his knees could be intolerable. We just don’t know yet.
Roy still has game, but it’ll be captivating to see how ready his body is for the NBA after sitting out this past season. He’s sure to be a litmus test for players returning from “career-ending” injuries.
Despite his limitations, Roy steps into a great situation for him in Minnesota.
Shooting guard has been a black hole for the Timberwolves lately, with last season’s starter and draft disappointment Wesley Johnson averaging six points per game on 39.8 percent shooting.
So yeah, the bar is set pretty low.
Still, things will be different for Roy in a Timberwolves uniform. Roy was the main man for his first four of five seasons on the Blazers. In Minnesota, he will need to adjust to not being the primary ball-handler, in deference to Ricky Rubio.
Roy disagreed with former coach Nate McMillan about his role when he became a sixth man in that final season, so coach Rick Adelman will need to find a way to create an off-the-ball niche for Roy on offense.
To be fair, Roy does not have the pressure of a maximum contract as well as being the face of the franchise upon his shoulders.
Most likely, he will end up the fourth-best player on the team behind Kevin Love, Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic. That’s if he’s relatively healthy.
Roy is the early favorite to start at shooting guard, but how his minutes and role in the offense turn out remains to be seen.
He had LaMarcus Aldridge and others to help him, but Roy was the primary force that made Blazers fans finally forget the "Jail Blazers" era.
A Seattle native out of the University of Washington, Roy's Northwest ties made him an instant fan favorite. Not only was he Portland’s leader on the court, but his charisma with the fans and off-court involvement in the community made him a local hero.
His fragile knees eventually gave out four seasons in, but not before he turned around the Blazers franchise.
After the retirement/amnesty mess, it was apparent that Roy’s future was not in Portland. Doctors said his career was over. He disagreed.
We all love a good comeback story. Roy’s desire to come back despite having earned over $100 million and league-wide respect shows that basketball is more than just a career for him. It’s a part of who he is.
Roy simply wants to play the game he loves, despite his setbacks. What’s not to root for?