I personnally don’t believe in summer school…simply for the fact that it’s school in the summer. I can’t relate to those who have taken summer classes, but I’m sure wasting parts of your summer in a classroom only to get a near failing grade has to get your attention. ESPN‘s Chad Ford has been handing out his off-season grades over the past couple weeks, and they weren’t too favorable to the Blazers. Ford handed Portland a C- for the summer, ranking their off-season as 13th out of the 15 teams in the Western Conference and about 24th out of 30 teams in the entire league. Here’s what Ford had to say:
After three years of prosperity and calm, the Blazers reverted back to their dysfunctional ways — firing successful GM Kevin Pritchard just an hour before the NBA draft. Pritchard stayed on to conduct the draft, but the damage was done.
The Blazers made their only significant move of the summer without a GM. They signed Matthews, an undrafted rookie last year, to a whopping five-year, $32 million deal. He was a great steal on a minimum contract, but the cost here was well above market value.
Thankfully, for Blazers fans, the team finally hired a GM and largely made up for its mistake with Pritchard in getting Rich Cho. Cho and Pritchard couldn’t be more different. Pritchard is a scout at heart with a charismatic personality. Cho is a system guy who likes to keep a low profile.
Cho will likely inject some discipline into the system and won’t make any moves for the sake of ego. If Greg Oden can finally get and stay healthy, they’ll continue to challenge the Thunder as the best young team in the league.
My sole reason for including that last sentence was to re-assure any people who think the ship is sinking. Anytime someone says you had a worst off-season than the Minnesota Timberwolves and the wunderkind known as Kahn, something is going on. I thought Ford’s grading was a bit harsh to be honest. It wasn’t the home run or triple off-season that Blazer fans have been accustomed to…but they didn’t really need one this year.
The thing that caught my eye was that Ford talked a lot about firing Pritchard and not a lot about the on court moves. Four of the five paragraphs he wrote about the Blazers were either about Allen, Pritchard or Cho. That’s all good, but I felt like if Ford was going to give such a low grade there needed to be more reasoning. Talking about the Rudy saga, or the trade’s that fell through, or the fact that Portland had a ton of trade chips and didn’t make a move could have justified it, because I know there are Blazer fans who were a smidge disappointed with this off-season.
Like I said before, this off-season didn’t have to be a huge hit. The majority of the roster from a 50 win team are back, and presumably healthy which was the most important factor in this team’s 09-10 campaign. I for one thought the draft was an underrated success, one that will pay dividends in the future because of the talent involved. We’ve covered the Wesley Matthews deal, there’s no arguing there was some overpaying there simply because Portland could have gotten him for much less but that’s nitpicking. The organization has displayed an unreal amount of confidence in Matthews and felt he was worth every penny…only time will tell.