By now, you know that Travis Outlaw was injured in last night's game. He has a stress fracture to his fifth metatarsal of his foot. Martell had the same injury last year and it will be interesting to see if the Blazers are extra careful with bringing him back after the eight weeks timetable.
There's a lot more to this story, as it relates to the way people see this affecting the team. Since last night I've gotten the feeling that some Blazer fans think this injury may actually help the team. Is it possible that losing one of our top scorers off the bench would actually help the Blazers?
There are fans out there who believe this to be true.
More then any other Blazer player, there is a strong divide about the impact Travis Outlaw has on this organization. We all love his occasional high-flying dunk and flashes of athleticism. We also love his unconscious ability to hit a big shot in a clutch situation. Travis has no fear and appears to feel no pressure.
There is good and there is bad when it comes to Travis. The bad would be his reliance on the jump shot, poor shot selection and inconsistency when it comes to rebounding and staying focused during a game. These are the kinds of things that drive people crazy. People like me.
I've always considered Travis to be a pivotal part of team chemistry and a great player to have come off the bench. When the team is struggling offensively, he is capable of getting hot and turning things around. He's also capable of ruining offensive rhythm by taking ill-advised or just plain ridiculous shots. It's tough to tell how his loss will impact the team.
For the next 30 or so games, we're going to find out what Travis means to the Blazers. I know some people are glad he's out (hopefully not wishing injury), while others see this as a major loss.
I come out somewhere in the middle on this. For one thing, I really like Travis as a person. He's great for the team, and as I said, provides offense off the bench. In the NBA, it's vital to have guys on the bench who are capable of scoring on their own. Stagnant offense happens, and Travis is a guy who can break through team shooting slumps.
I am also curious to see what happens over the next few months. Part of the reason the Blazers have so much depth is for injuries. If anything, this gives other capable players an opportunity to contribute and prove their worth. I'm happy to see Juwan Howard get more time at power forward and this situation also allows the three guard starting lineup to continue without a hitch.
Not only that, but Rudy Fernandez stands to benefit in the playing time department.
I've always wanted the best for Travis. I want him to succeed on this Blazers team, but his evolution as a player seems to be stymied. If you asked someone without knowledge of Travis' career, how many years he's played in the league, they'd most likely think he's a second or third year guy.
That assessment would be based on his decision making, his relatively low basketball IQ and just the way he can roam aimlessly on defense or look out of place during a game.
It's not an attack, it's just the truth. Whenever Outlaw plays within himself, he's a great contributor. But shooting 1-for-9 or 2-for-13 from the field is devastating against good teams. Bad missed shots are like turnovers. I hope Travis heals quickly, but my internal jury is still out on whether it's good or bad losing him in the rotation.
I may end up being totally wrong about this, and in some ways I hope I am. It could be, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."
So where do you come out on this? Are the Blazers better, worse, or no different without Travis in the lineup?