Coup: Where to begin, where to begin? I know, Rudy Fernandez, who will reportedly play for Real Madrid next season. You know, if he isn’t under guaranteed contract with the Blazers or anything…
I joke, I joke. There’s absolutely no reason to talk about Rudy or any reports that come out of Marca right now. It’s clear that there is some strong disdain for the Blazers coming out of that media outlet, along with some iffy knowledge of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. So let’s just push that aside and put it on our block list for the moment.
The real topic of the week is Kevin Pritchard, obviously, about whom I can start by saying I respect just for not going full on Johnny Ringo on the Blazers right now. The best course of action is probably just for KP to stay quiet and do his job, though the same isn’t true for the rest of the Blazers front office, who could be doing much more to set the situation right — even if that means leaking “the truth” to some outside sources, as they’re basically trying to combat their own leaks with corporate speak. Tough to do.
So, for starters, what do you think KP should be doing? Should he resign?
SJ: I have no idea how the Blazers could have botched this so bad. It smells like how the Bulls treated Vinny Del Negro without the story of Larry Miller and KP almost coming to blows. It’s amazing how far this franchise has come…remember when the fans were for firing the GM and now the majority of them are fighting to keep him around. Let me get this out of the way, the whole thing does not make any sense to me. With all of the boneheaded GMs running around the NBA, why run off someone who is doing their job correctly? What’s the justification for letting him go? Too many saavy moves? I’m not saying KP is perfect, but it’s hard to argue that he has not done a phenomenal job building this team.
The worst part about all of it is how it has played out publicly. The melodrama has just been insane, about a gajillion times better than the final season of the Hills. It’s almost come time for the Blazers to either come out and say ‘We’re keeping him’ or to cut him loose because this limbo is doing no one favors. Neither is coming out and saying “We’re still evaluating him”. What’s to evaluate? That great Camby trade?
If anything by keeping his mouth shut and doing his job, KP is making people forget about all the things that came out of Wojo’s initial ‘Ether’ report. It would almost have been better if the Blazers front office just said ‘no comment’, at least that could garner respect. (More after the jump)
What do I think KP should be doing? His job. And he should be doing it for a while. The whole ‘KP should resign’ thing is just silly. Resign and do what? It’s a shame that this is even an issue. We should be talking about drafts and trades not if KP is too much of a jerk for the front office to like him.
Do you think firing KP would be justified? Also thinking outside of the box, do you think KP may be getting too much credit from Blazer fans? I mean with all the Pritch-slapping and campaigns and what not.
Coup: Would firing KP be justified? Not for anything that we know about. Not for drafting Oden over Durant, not for turning down Gerald Wallace for Nic Batum, or Vince Carter, or for anything else basketball related. The argument against him just isn’t there, even before you bring injuries into the equation. Could it be justified from a personality standpoint, if say, purely for this hypothetical, KP was the lowest of the low and it was in some way damaging the ability of the front office to operate, then perhaps there would be a justification. But if he’s just a jerk who gets the job done, then it doesn’t matter one bit to me. If you can do your job well and not inhibit the jobs of others, you can work for me.
Of course I can’t pretend to have the same business practices of Paul Allen, but Allen’s record with personnel decisions is certainly not as strong as KP’s is with basketball decisions. It’s also distinctly possible Allen is just too loyal to some folks around him and not open enough to others, but that’s just guesswork and theorem.
What I don’t like is the idea that Blazer fans should have unwavering loyalty for KP, or that by being upset with the Blazers they are “taking sides”. On the second matter, it’s very clear that the Blazers have dug themselves quite the ditch and whether this was KP or someone else, they haven’t handled the situation openly and honestly — 25-point pledge alert. Put it this way, Vinny Del Negro deserved to be fired without question, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls took care of their business properly. We all see people everyday who may hold the correct opinion or the high ground in a dispute, but choose to demean their stance by taking the low road.
To the first point, it’s very possible that, in time, the right decision would be to let KP go. What if he had ended up with Hedo Turkoglu for five year $50 million? What if he waits to long on the cake baking and winds up not being able to make a move to put Portland into true contention? Who knows. It’s always a fluid situation, as Nate McMillan seems to understand with his year-to-year contract extensions.
So yes, maybe some people give him too much credit, just as some people might not give him enough, and maybe KP got too much of the limelight, but if someone came up to you gushing about KP, it’s not like there’s too much to use right now to bring them back down to earth, is there?
SJ: The only justification for letting KP go would be because it’s impossible for things to get done with him around. That’s about it. If we’re talking basketball, I’m just not seeing it. You hit on some good points there so I’ll leave it at that. Sometimes to be really good at something you almost have to be a jerk.
I agree this is not a ‘take sides’ moment like when Whitsitt was around. At the end of the day, it’s great that the fans are so passionate but business is business. I just think it’s so funny that Portland fans have gone from being so disgusted with the team and the attiude and such that the franchise HAD to bust out the 25-pledge rule…to getting all heated up about a General Manager possibly being fired. Is that not a little funny to you?
Now wait a second…a little off topic here…but I have to touch on VDN. I never thought he should have gotten hired in the first place. We can all say Vinny Del Negro wasn’t the world’s greatest coach and what not…but deserved to be fired? I don’t know about that one. Two playoff appearances a huge comeback this season AFTER the Bulls basically told him he was fired early on. AND the Bulls were the ones who hired him despite the fact that he had never coached in his life. Maybe he should have been fired, but I don’t know if it was deserved.
The thing about letting KP go is, there is too much to look back at. Stick with me here.It’s kind of like if you’re dating a girl, and she’s crazy…but she cooks and cleans like none other. And everytime she has a fit and you want to let her go, you know she brings too much to the table to just let her go for nothing. KP brings too much to the table on the basketball side of things. I guess that’s actually why Portland tried to put feelers out to see if they could find the same thing. Did I just make an analogy that made the Blazers front office look good?
I remember when the ‘Pritch-slap’ thing became all the rage and I wanted to argue with people but I couldn’t. It’s like if you wanted to go up to someone and say ‘Oden is better than Durant’, you’re just going to be stuck or laughed at.
I guess you can’t blame Portland for looking into a replacement. It’s still the public mishandling of it that has done the most damage. How do you see this ending in a positive way?
Coup: Ah, the SJ classic, “If kind of like if….a girl” situation. I’m going to change that to, “What if you’re dating a crazy girl and she busts her butt to earn all the money for the two of you while you kinda sorta cook and clean…?” Yeah, I like that better on you.
Maybe saying VDN deserved to be fired is a little strong, but in the same vein, he probably didn’t deserve to be hired in the first place. He did some good things, but his player development skills fell woefully short, and that’s crucial with that team. So maybe he got fired more for things he didn’t do than those he did.
I actually don’t have much of a problem with the team using a headhunting firm. Obviously you don’t like hearing it from third-party sources because someone leaked it, and it just appears to all the more seal KP’s fate, but sometimes when you’re at a crossroads you have to cover your bases before you make a choice. In some ways, even KP, Mr. “Do our due diligence”, can understand that. The problem is with that due diligence becoming public, and then joining all the other cloak and dagger reports that have created this gigantic brainfreeze.
How can it end? Well, the likely scenario seems to be KP going through the draft, possibly free agency, and then getting let go. That’s not an ideal solution, nor one that is going to leave Blazer fans with many positive vibes, but at least it would provide a factual conclusion to this story.
Portland could also fire him before the draft, but even reaching that conclusion might be overshadowed by some scrambling come draft time.
Now, this can also finish with KP remaining with the team, but that can ONLY happen in a positive manner if he receives a contract extension (and raise) and the Blazers brass verbally, and publicly, wipe the slate clean and back their GM again with gusto. If the team keeps dancing around and lets KP go into next season without a new contract, we’re just going to have more reports of him being a lame-duck GM. That feels like worst-case scenario, as you still lose KP, but he has to spend a year with his legs cut out from under him.
What is your ideal conclusion? Aside from whether KP stays or goes, can you see anything positive coming out of all the negativity, with regards to the team?
SJ: My ideal conclusion is that Larry Miller calls a press conference, takes his rose-colored stunner shades off, brings KP out and slowly raises his hand before exiting stage left. Impossible…sure. But also awesome at the same time.
I’m convinced that whether he stays or goes the negativity will go away. I think respect may be lost for the front office but the Blazers have been through much, much worse as a franchise. Even if KP is gone, all it will take is a good press conference, some W’s and one good move for the new GM to be accepted. And you know it’s true, winning is the great elixir to the majority of fanbases.
As far as positivity out of the negativity…I’m not sure. This isn’t one of those things where you’re 18 and get accused of robbing celebrities and then get rewarded with your own reality tv show (Pretty Wild reference #1). The damage has been done to both sides. KP’s golden aura image has been poked and the front office has shown weakness in handling things. I’m not sure if people truly look at them the same again. Barring a championship of course. Things can be ok after but make no mistake about it it’s a mini-turning point.
I don’t think Portland fires KP before the Draft. Too much going on to make a move there in my opinion. Shortly after, I could see it. Then again, say KP delivers another top-notch draft day performance…how do you let him go? With every day that passes, the window to pull that trigger closes a little bit. Well, I should say, the window to pull that trigger in a way that doesn’t look ridiculous closes a little bit. It just feels like a move should have been made by now. The one thing the front office seems to be doing is making sure they are, at the very least, making a lateral move.
And clown on my analogies all you want, but they get the job done. I’m like Gucci Mane: you may not know exactly what I’m saying but you’re going to end up nodding your head at some point.
Is the only way this ends well with Paul Allen being the one to smooth everything over?
Coup: It has to come from PA in some form or another, but if KP got a contract extension and Larry Miller says something substantial to the media, you can bet that came from PA.
The last point I want to make is that, looking back on the transactions of current and past GM’s, even if KP goes, basketball-wise, it’s not the end of the world. While there isn’t a perfect precedent for this situation, it’s not that uncommon for one GM to do the bull’s work in a rebuilding project, then for another GM to finish things off with a final bold move to get the team into contention. That’s not to say the second GM was better, but it’s not like this team, with the assets it has, is going to be crippled without KP.
Above all, a team, eventually, needs consistency, both on the court and in the front office. If KP has to go, at least bring in someone you know can come in and do a good job for a good long while. This doesn’t mean bringing in a retread that’s been fired by another team but keeps getting work “because they know the league,” and it also might not mean bringing in 72-year old Jerry West.
If you have to make a move, and the Blazers don’t, at least do it right. So far, “right” isn’t how anyone would describe it.