On this week’s BS Report, one of the weekly podcast on Grantland.com, host Bill Simmons and TNT analyst and Trail Blazer player Steve Kerr discuss the Portland Trail Blazers twice throughout the course of the hour long show. You can listen to the podcast in it’s entirety here, but for your convenience, I’ve transcribed the two segments pertaining to Portland.
First, Simmons brings up the Trail Blazers as the anti-Cavaliers, a team struggling at 4-7 with roster issues.
Kerr: … (Cavaliers guard Dion) Waiters is the guy who doesn’t really fit into the whole equation. You kind of mentioned it, he needs the ball. To me the biggest problem is he wants to dribble the ball all the time. You really only want one guy on your team who is going to break down the defense off the dribble. Once you get more than one, you get two or three guys like that and they all want to do it all the time, then you get no offensive rhythm and no ball movement. I think that]s a problem. The Waiters/Kyrie (Irving) combination just does not look very good.
Simmons: Then you look at it on the flip side, you know, Portland, which was a team I actually thought was going to make the playoffs. You watch that team offensively and the pieces make sense, right? Like, (Damian) Lillard has the ball most of the time, they have shooters in place, they have a low post game, (Robin) Lopez doesn’t want the ball. And just the way that roster, the way their five guys mesh, makes sense. I watched that Cleveland team and it didn’t make sense.
But the section with the most meat comes when the conversation turns to the Rockets and Omer Asik, who is reportedly disgruntled with his role as Dwight Howard’s backup and who the Rockets are currently attempting to trade. Simmons throws out the idea of Houston moving Asik to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, to the Pelicans for Ryan Anderson, to the Celtics for Jeff Green or to the Trail Blazers for Lopez and parts …
Simmons: I think Portland’s a possibility too because you think, like, (Houston) gets (Robin) Lopez back, they get one more shooter, they get Portland’s draft pick. And just Portland upgrading from, if they could figure out a way to upgrade from Lopez to Asik, now all the sudden they’d have a chance for like a four or a five seed, I feel like.
Kerr: Yeah, Portland would be interesting. They’re obviously a great story at 9-2. I thought they’d be pretty good. I thought they’d be the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs just because they’re very good offensively and I felt like they’d be better on “D”. Terry Stotts has made some adjustments with their pick and roll coverage. Lopez, even though he’s not a flashy guy who you say “Wow, look at that guy!” he does some good things for them. He protects the rim, so their defense has gotten much better, which has allowed them to finish out games on the road like we’ve seen the last couple nights in Toronto and Brooklyn.
Simmons: You drafted Lopez.
Kerr: I did (Kerr was the Suns general manager from 2007 to 2010). I did, so you have to take that for what it’s worth. Maybe I’ve got a little bias going but I just think, if you want to really compete in the NBA at a high level, you have to have rim protection of some sort. Chicago, two years ago, the reason they were so great and they were in the conference finals with Miami was there bench play with (Taj) Gibson and (Omer) Asik coming in together was so devastating defensively and then they always had (Joakim) Noah in the there to protect the rim as well. Unless you have Lebron — then you can do things in an unorthodox manner — you better have somebody who can protect the rim.
Simmons: I like Lopez. That trade, everything that New Orleans did, and I wrote about it, Jalen and I talked about it in our big preview series, I just hated what New Orleans did. To give away Lopez, who I think was only five million bucks this year, to just give him away because you wanted to overpay Tyreke Evans is just nonsensical to me. I’d rather have Lopez! Just in a vacuum I’d rather have Lopez. But then if I were to pay him half as much as Tyreke Evans, I would double rather have Lopez!
Note: If the Trail Blazers pick in the 2014 Draft is 13 or later, it goes to the Bobcats, which was stipulated in the trade that netted the Trail Blazers Gerald Wallace.
Let’s also remember that this is just Simmons and Kerr shooting the breeze, not a rumor of any substance. Having said that, I know a lot of folks love Asik, but is he so much better than Lopez that you pay almost double for him AND potentially give up picks and, as Simmons suggests, a shooter? I suppose I could be persuaded, but I just don’t know. I like what we’ve got going right now.