Apr. 16, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Kaleb Canales reacts from the while sidelines while playing against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 125-107. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports.

What Kaleb Canales' Departure Means for Portland

Earlier today it was announced that former Blazers Offensive Coordinator, Kaleb Canales would be leaving the organization to take an assistant coaching job with the Dallas Mavericks. Canales’ most prominent role with the Blazers was a brief stint as Head Coach in the wake of Nate Mcmillan’s dismissal in 2012. When current Head Coach, Terry Stotts, was hired, Portland kept Kaleb to help coordinate the offense. However; Stotts has decided to eliminate the Kaleb’s position and make coordinating the team a collective staff effort.

So what does this mean for Portland? Despite the appreciation the Blazers have for Kaleb Canales, this is decidedly good. Kaleb is an offensive specialist, as is Stotts, so combining their talents left the Blazers with mediocre defense. Stotts hopes to hire a new assistant by summer league. I’d wager dollars to donuts that a defensive specialist is in our future, and one couldn’t come at a better time.

Lillard has struggled with on-ball defense all season, but has taken criticisms to heart and will be training with 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year, Gary Payton, this summer. While I admire Lillard’s initiative, he can’t be the only one to improve. The Blazers must function as a defensive unit and suffocate their opponents. The Memphis Grizzlies exemplify my goal for the Portland Trail Blazers. I want to see them dominate the full 24 every time. If they can do that and teach Meyers Leonard not to bail out opponents with bad fouls, they’ll be in great shape.

One of Portland’s biggest problems is the inability to balance offensive inconsistency. Sure, they’ll get hot for a while, but when the shots won’t fall they lack a higher defensive gear to make up for it. That’s why it’s so important that they see Kaleb’s departure as an opportunity rather than a setback. Defense is the one element of basketball that is always in the player’s control, but without the proper guidance it’s difficult to excel. The Blazers gave up the 2nd highest field goal percentage in the league this season (47.4%) and must bring that down considerably in order to be a playoff team again. Kaleb just isn’t the man to make that happen.

Let it be known that Kaleb Canales’ contributions are not to be undervalued. His leadership in times of crisis and support in times of success have been priceless to the Portland Trail Blazers. The offensive minds of Canales and Stotts have simply overlapped into an area of redundancy the Blazers needed to address. So congratulations, Dallas, you’ve got a great guy coming your way. But if I see you use him to get to LaMarcus as BlazersEdge writer, Ben Golliver, suggested, you’ll have the best fan-base in the NBA very unhappy with you.

 

Best of luck to Kaleb in all of his future ventures. It’s been great having him on our side.

@davidmackaypdx | @ripcityproject | [email protected]

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Kaleb Canales Portland Trail Blazers Terry Stotts

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