I hope everyone in Rip City enjoyed the summer, because as of today it’s officially over. The Blazers held their annual media day, kicking off their 2010-11 season, and the question on everyone’s mind was “What’s up with Rudy Fernandez?”
It’s been an up-and-down summer for Rudy, following a tough second NBA season. The low point of the Blazer’s relationship with Rudy undoubtedly came over the summer amid rumors that the Spanish wing had no intention of returning to Portland or the NBA. This afternoon many of those rumors were both laid to rest and confirmed, as Rudy was on hand to answer questions.
A few players took questions before Rudy though, chief among them, Greg Oden. Greg’s questions centered around his knee, and how long it was going to be before he was back out on the court. It won’t be Opening Day, October 26th when the Blazers face the Phoenix Suns, and it might not even be until after Christmas.
Greg said that his rehab days are both good and bad, that there’s still some pain, and that the time table for his return is as of yet undetermined. Many players echoed the sentiment that it’s better for Oden to stay off the court until he’s fully healed. Nobody wants a repeat of last season, and nobody wants to deal with any more questions about Oden’s long-term potential as an NBA player.
It seems understandable that Greg is tired of still answering rehab related questions for the third straight year, but he seemed happy, eager to talk to the press and explain his situation, and ready to get to work. One can assume that part of his happiness comes from not being the center of the media’s attention. That position belonged to Rudy.
Coming out in the second wave of players, Rudy easily attracted the largest amount of attention, even with Brandon Roy seated at the table directly next to him. The first question for Rudy, of course, was if he was committed to being a Blazer. Rudy’s answer was a little bit yes and a little bit no. He said he loves the community and the fans in Portland, and that because he is a professional player under contract he intends to be a Blazer for the 2010-11 season, but that he feels, personally that his game is more suited to European style basketball.
Although he was unclear on exactly European style basketball was, he made it apparent that after his contract is up, he plans to return to Spain. It has been an interesting run with Rudy Fernandez, it doesn’t seem that too much time has passed since he wowed the Rose Garden in his first pre-season game and “I Love Rudy” t-shirts were everywhere.Part of me thinks that if Rudy can find a place on this version of the Blazers there may be a place for him in the NBA. He doesn’t seem like the kind of of player that would walk away from the best league in the world just because he said he would. That being said, it is highly unlikely that Rudy Fernandez will be a Blazer or an NBA player after his contract expires.
Popular topics where off season workout habits, LaMarcus put in some time with an NFL trainer, and he looks tough and ready bang down low, and where everyone thought the season was going to take the Blazers. Brandon mentioned not have expectations, that maybe talking about reaching the Conference Finals was not important to do the week training camp begins. Nicolas Batum talked about working on his offensive game while maintaining his status as the team’s stopper, and Wesley Matthews, the Blazer’s big off-season acquisition talked about his presence being a key to Portland’s defensive schemes.
Speaking of Matthews, he came across as definitely the real deal. His big body and athleticism will more than make up for the departing Martell Webster. There’s no doubt that if the Blazers are going to make a deep post-season run, he’s going to be a big part of it.
Matthews had this to say about what he brings to Portland:
Whatever it is I have to do, play defense, score on the other end, whatever they need me to do. They’re (Portland) exited about the toughness that I bring on the defensive end. That’s just a given with me, that’s the only way I know how to play. I really feel like I can help this team, and that’s what I want to do.
The attitude among the players was that the sky is the limit for this group. With the way the NBA was shaken up of the summer, it’s teams like the Blazers, that added only one piece, that look like a cohesive unit that won’t have to spend the first month of the season getting used to playing with each other.
Nicolas Batum summed up the feelings quite nicely:
We’ve got everything, we’ve got a good point guard, some good wings, some good big men, so we can do something great. We’ve got a good coaching staff, so yeah, we can do something special this year.
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