It rains a lot in Portland and last season the Trailblazers were a pleasant surprise who rained wins on their fans and beat the depleted Clippers in a playoff series. This season is going like many predicted last season would go and that means bad news in Oregon.The Blazers are less than .500 and not showing signs of being a threat. Great player Damian Lillard is earning his very large paycheck but Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe, two expensive players, aren’t earning theirs. The Blazers committed a lot of money to that troika and has tied itself to them and to C.J. McCollum for a long time. The challenge for coach Terry Stotts is to get this group plus some other pieces to play better because trades are rare in the NBA. His job security is pure conjecture and poor journalists make pathetic guesses about the future. You won’t be reading any here.
To the shock of nobody with a brain who pays attention to the Clippers, Blake Griffin has suffered another significant injury. This bears emphasizing – when Blake is on he isn’t, as some moron recently wrote, one of the 15 best players in the world. He is top 10 and possibly top 6 or 7. His offensive arsenal is incredible and he knows how to play with other great players. Towns and Davis haven’t proven that and neither has Cousins or, as a prime mover, Harden. Westbrook couldn’t get it done with a healthy Durant and vice versa.
Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers, or to whoever he has given the responsibility, will probably have a very difficult decision to make when Griffin’s contract is up, most likely at the end of this season when he can opt out. How much to offer Griffin? For how long? Griffin hasn’t been able to stay on the floor and will that change? If the Clips win it all this season with a healthy Griffin, the decision will be much easier. Stranger things have happened.
The Lakers kicked away another one after scoring 73 in the first half. Like the Timberwolves, they can’t close. Head coaches Luke Walton and Tom Thibodeau have many challenges and teaching their players that is probably their largest. Maybe if Thibodeau lost some weight off his too large body his players would do more of what he wants. Is he tough enough to drop 60?
LeBron James is a player who has always played great with other great players. He continues to pass other gods on the all-time points scored list. Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon were savage competitors who played basketball at the highest level and Elvin Hayes was a pioneer like Cy Young. LeBron, to his credit, has earned the right to be similarly thought of. James is the best player since Jordan and either the fourth or fifth best ever, behind a player nobody will match, Chamberlain, Jabbar, Jordan, and on most days, behind a player as ahead of his time as Ruth, Cobb, Thorpe, and Jim Brown, the complete legend Magic Johnson. We will learn much about James and he will most likely have opportunities to climb this list. Be thankful for him. Maybe Leonard, the best player in the world, and Curry will achieve like LeBron. Stating the obvious, they have much to prove.
This piece was written by Jim Swigart. Jim has been seriously writing for at least eight years and previously wrote about music for a now defunct online magazine for about two years. Jim briefly blogged about sports for an online site and currently blogs weekly about sports on his own site.
His academic background is in business and math. He has done numerous work tasks besides writing. My interests include exercise, sports, music, and politics.