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Quick and the incredible shrinking rotation

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Another edition of Sean Meagher’s Quick Chat with Jason Quick is up at O-Live (pretty much the sole source of news this week). Worth a listen, as they usually are. I’ll like to point out a couple things.

Jason mentions that the front office folks will be tempering their expectations, and therefore what they say publicly to media types, for Oden in the next couple months. But privately he says they are all ecstatic with what they are seeing, using the word “jackpot”. I have a feeling this point will have to be reiterated multiple times when Kevin Pritchard makes a comment that isn’t enthusiastic enough and Blazer fans (the O-Live forum types at least) start freaking out about it.

Secondly, Nate McMillan is apparently dead set on getting down to an eight man rotation by the middle of the season. Here’s a refresher on the full 14-man roster.

LaMarcus Aldridge
Nicolas Batum
Jerryd Bayless
Steve Blake
Ike Diogu
Rudy Fernandez
Channing Frye
Raef LaFrentz
Greg Oden
Travis Outlaw
Joel Pryzbilla
Sergio Rodriguez
Brandon Roy
Martell Webster

So of the 14, we can rule out Raef and Batum for significant playing time this year. Now we’re at 12. Barring some sort of minor miracle, Sergio is riding the bench as well. Down to 11. Of those, we can guess that the starting lineup on opening night will look something like Blake, Roy, Martell, LaMarcus and Greg. That leaves three bench rotation spots for Joel, Travis, Channing, Diogu, Rudy and Bayless. We know Joel is going to back up Greg and Travis has earned his PT, so that’s seven already. This leaves us with Channing, Diogu, Rudy and Bayless for the final rotation spot. We all know Diogu is talented, but he’s probably the first odd man out. We need a backup guard, too, so Channing is out. That leaves Rudy and Jerryd for the final spot.

Does this mean Frye and either Rudy or Bayless are going to ride the pine for half the season? No. An eight-man rotation doesn’t mean you only play eight, just that most of the impact minutes are divided among those players. Quick said he could see Bayless eventually beating out Blake for a starting guard spot, but then does Blake fill the bench in front of Rudy, or does the Spaniard push Steve even further out of the picture. Judging from Quick’s comments on Channing possibly earning the Hard Worker award, we can’t rule out the Buffet of Goodness, either, knowing Nate’s propensity for playing those types of players (Jarret Jack anyone?).

Put it all together and there’s a roster conundrum staring the Blazer brass right in the face. Look further ahead, and it gets better (or worse, depending on how you’re looking at it).

Thinking about the cap space next summer, where does a free agent fit in? The Blazers already have more talent than they can give solid minutes too, so before you think about just adding a piece, ponder consolidation. The cap room allows us to take on larger contracts than we trade away, making 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 package deals involving younger players a little easier. And if Nate has his rotation down by midseason, then KP might already know which players are, by nature of the division of minutes, on the block around the trade deadline. So don’t assume the Blazers wait until summer to make a move