Summer's All a Blaze in Portland

Kyle ChownContributor IMay 17, 2009

SEATTLE - APRIL 1:  Head coach Kevin Pritchard of the Portland Trail Blazers claps during the game against the Seattle Sonics at Key Arena on April 1, 2005 in Seattle, Washington.  The Sonics won 89-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

This is Kevin Pritchard’s favorite time of year. The Summer. Since joining the Portland Trail Blazers in 2004, Pritchard has not only reshaped the social stigmata of this team but did so while compiling a young collection of talent that just recently proved throughout the regular season and playoffs it can contend with the best.

Now that the season is over, and the players spend their summer trying to wash the bitter taste of defeat out of their mouth's, Pritchard works endlessly into the nights. I have this great mental picture of KP holding multiple phones and shoes up to his ears.

Just talking out of whatever and to whomever is possibly willing to make a deal. This is the environment's many fans in Portland have of KP. His Escher like precision and attention to detail, willing the page to create from itself. Pritchard is this in a basketball sense. 

Before we go to far though, let us remember our good friend Darius Miles. And if you hadn’t heard yet he has recently been arrested for marijuana charges and is sitting comfortably in jail. I wonder if the precinct would mind if Darius “made it rain” for a little while in his cell?

He is however getting paid a cool 10 million by Portland. Our dear friend Darius will be on the books for another year as well so we can thank Miles for in some way affecting what Pritchard does or doesn’t do this off-season.  

I think I just heard Pritchard’s phone ring...

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Portland has an incredibly deep bench but a lot of talent in similar positions. The Blazers need a point guard who can defend on the perimeter better than Blake. What to do with Martell Webster? The nagging LaFrentz contract.

With about 10 million to work with in sala cap space, the Blazers have options. Especially with the depth of young talent, Pritchard is more than well equipped to strike a deal.

One question I have regards Steve Blake. I love the guy. He plays with a chip on his shoulder and is a great team guy. But Aaron Brooks ran all over him and this team needs a point who can guard the perimeter.

Jaryd Bayless may be that player. His fall-back is that he can’t shoot and is to sporadic and inconsistent with distributing the basketball. His turnover to assist ratio won’t cut it for long as a starter.

But as KP would say, “that’s what the summer is for.” Bayless is strong and reminds me a bit of a Derrick Rose type point guard, if he got his fundamental work in during the off season. 

Portland has the 24th pick in this years NBA draft and sits in a precarious position. The draft class is not that strong this year and I could see Portland going one of two ways.

One, the Blazers trade their pick along with some players for another power forward or they trade the pick, a player and a future pick for a top five pick. But the draft is weaker this year and no one in the top five( except for Blake Griffin) fits Portland’s mold.  

The Blazers are no longer looked upon as the “up and coming franchise” around the league. Whatever transpires during the summer, we are certain Pritchard will handle it with the grace of his Blackberry like a wise old ninja handles his steal.

KP knows how close this team is on and off the floor cares for each of them personally. However, he also knows what his title is and that the NBA is a billion dollar business first.