Roy and Aldridge complaining about the offense? Chemistry problems still cooking in Portland.
Inside the Blazers: Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge put at ease with offensive direction
By Jason Quick, The Oregonian
October 11, 2009, 11:40AM
A simmering feeling of unrest among the top two players on the Trail Blazers was put at ease late Friday night by coach Nate McMillan, who assured stars Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge that the bulk of the teams offense would run through them.
McMillan summoned Roy to the front of the team's private jet to tell him that from here on, the preseason will focus less on experimentation and more on the proven offense of last season, when Roy and Aldridge were the dominant players.
Both Roy and Aldridge had privately expressed confusion and unease with the direction of the teams' play in the first three exhibition games, when McMillan experimented liberally with lineups and play calls.
"We have to learn as we go, but it's definitely going to be different for us,'' Aldridge said after the second game in Sacramento, when he scored three points on five attempts in 24 minutes. "There's going to be a learning curve for all of us. There's a lot of talent out there, but not a lot of touches.''
Before Friday night’s conversation, Roy, in particular, was struggling with what appeared to be a drastically different role. With an early emphasis on feeding the ball to center Greg Oden and letting incoming point guard Andre Miller make plays, Roy rarely handled the ball. That took away his specialty — the pick-and-roll — and left him aimlessly roaming the perimeter, where his outside shot has yet to round into shape.
In the first three games, Roy was averaging 9.3 points while shooting 32 percent from the field (8-for-25) in just more than 24 minutes a game.
"It's almost like my rookie year again — trying to figure out where I am in the offense,'' Roy said in Sacramento after the team's second preseason game. "I have gotten used to the ball coming to me, I didn't have to go try and find it. But now I'm in a position where I have to search the ball out and be more aggressive. So, I don't know.''
When asked how he felt about having the ball less, Roy was again put in a new position — unable to put his thoughts into words.
"I don't know yet, honestly. I've thought about it, but I don't know how I feel yet,'' Roy said. "It's definitely not cool, because I feel like I'm still young and there's a lot I can do.
But I don't know how I feel. I have to let it play out a little more. Because, it's the preseason. The minutes aren't there yet, the rotations aren't set yet. So, I'm not getting too caught up in it — yet. But, you know, it's something that's lingering there. For sure.''
All that apprehension was put at ease Friday night when McMillan used what by now has become a common practice — calling Roy to sit with him on the plane to discuss the team's future.
"He said he understands why I have been a little confused at how we've been going,'' Roy said Saturday. "He said he really wanted to use these preseason games for Greg to build his confidence and for Andre to play somewhat free and just make plays. He told me not to worry about the offense. He said there will come a time when he establishes that we will play through me and LaMarcus.''
That time apparently will start on Wednesday in the fourth of the Blazers' eight preseason games. Roy said McMillan is leaning toward starting Miller, Roy, Martell Webster, Aldridge and Oden for the Suns game, during which some, but not as much, experimentation will occur.
When the team plays its sixth and seventh preseason games — Oct. 18 at home against Denver and Oct. 20 at home against Utah — the regular-season plays and rotations will be used. Roy said McMillan told him that he and other prominent starters won't play in the preseason finale Oct. 22 in Vancouver, B.C.
"But he told me not to worry, that the offense is still going to be played through me,'' Roy said. "As much as I need the ball, then that's what the team is going to continue to do."
While the Friday meeting on the plane was a welcomed conversation, it didn't change Roy's assertion that this is the most important preseason in his four years. Never before have the Blazers had so much competition, so many options, and so much diversity. There is a lot to figure out, Roy says, and they better do it in the preseason.
"This is a really important preseason and my job as a captain of this team is I have to start to stress that to the guys,'' Roy said. "We are just kind of flowing right now, and I think we have to take it a little more serious and that is going to start with me and, of course, LaMarcus. We can't keep playing these games to get them over with, we have to start getting something out of them.
"So on Wednesday, I'm going to be aggressive. I can't try to fit in anymore, I got to play to get something out of it,'' Roy said. "Because I don't want to be going into the first game and there be confusion there.''
Probably the biggest question remaining is what teammates are best suited to play with Roy and Aldridge.
In the last game, Miller and Roy started in the backcourt for the first time. It was an awkward pairing. On one play, Roy called for the ball and didn't get it, as Miller opted to pass to a posting Oden on the other side of the court. Another time, when Roy did get the ball, he was stifled when Miller was unable to clear his defender from the area Roy wanted to go.
At any rate, Roy is anxious to give it another go with Miller on Wednesday.
"It's weird, because when I play with (Steve) Blake, I'm used to Blake spacing and stretching the defense. Whereas with Andre, there's gonna be somewhat of a learning curve there,'' Roy said.
"The biggest thing Andre and I are going to have to build on is our spacing, because me and Blake had it. It was like, if I went off a screen, Blake knew where to be. (Friday) night, Andre was kind of in certain positions where he didn't fully know our spacing. But it was also the first time we tried it. I think that's something we are going to have to work on. Once he gets his spacing down,I will be able to make my reads better and he will be able to make his.''
Whether Miller and Roy develop any cohesion in the next two weeks will be the ultimate factor in whether Miller gets his wish to start. But McMillan is sounding more and more like he favors two units that are equally balanced with the ability to run pick-and-rolls, post up and defend. Miller and Roy are the team's two best pick-and-roll players.
Also, the balanced units help alleviate the inevitable pressures that began to worry Roy and Aldridge last week — a lot of talent, not enough touches. By sprinkling the talented offensive players among two units, it better enables players to get more shots. It's why McMillan was experimenting so heavily with lineups in the first three games, often at the expense of Aldridge and Roy.
"So I understand how (Aldridge and Roy) could be sitting there trying to figure out where they are,'' McMillan said after Friday night’ game. "But it's all part of figuring this thing out. Me figuring out a rhythm and a rotation. Me figuring out plays and combinations so we can get guys the ball.
“But the reason you come up with starting units is to try and balance both units so that guys can get touches. That's why your best five may not be the best starting five. But we won't lose Brandon. We won't lose LaMarcus. They are option one and option two.''
-- Jason Quick
This is a real issue. The Blazers had no idea Andre had this big of an ego. From being the "somewhat man" in Philly, he's so used to being able to do it his way. Unfortunatly, this is terrible for the Blazers and they should look to trade him somewhere else before he ruins Portlands chance to lock up Aldridge before 2010.
If Portland's smart, they should lock up Aldridge now because he's only going to get better. And if you get better, it means you should be earning more money so he would be demanding more money next year than this year. As for the Andre Miller thing, he should be starting no matter what. Miller's a starter in this league and Blake is more of a backup in this league. Why would Portland give Miller that money to rot on the bench? Makes no sense. And as for Bayless.. damn man kid, I feel for you.
- Miller already upset with the Blazers and the media. Not having a great start. He wants to be a starter. It's clear that right now he's questioning signing with the Blazers.
- Roy clearly has no chemistry with Miller. Both players need the ball to be effective. Roy is too used to having the ball and being able to isolate/run the pick and roll whenever he wants. It's not a good thing when your franchise player is confused and concerned about his role in the offense. In my opinion, Roy needs to adapt and learn to play off the ball more often. Roy doesn't seem willing to adapt and expand his game. He also doesn't seem happy that the team's been getting the ball into Oden on offense. "On one play, Roy called for the ball and didn't get it, as Miller opted to pass to a posting Oden on the other side of the court." Miller has been known to make bigs better. Problem.
- Aldridge STILL has no contract extension and now he's also confused about his role in the offense. There's been an emphasis on getting Oden the ball, not Aldridge, during the pre-season. It sounds like he's upset.
- Oden wants to start and is CLEARLY looking to be the man in the post. Problem... McMillan has said that Pryzbilla is the starter and even if Oden did start... Aldridge is supposed to be this team's post presence.
- Fernandez wants more minutes. Problem. Webster is 100% healthy and wants to pick up where he left off before the injury.
- Bayless is hungry and eager to see the court. He's probably the most competitve and confident player on the team. How long will he be happy not playing?
- Blake is in a contract year. He wants to play and be on the floor when it counts. Problem. Miller has always been on the floor when the game is on the line.
- Outlaw is also in a contract year and expecting to have a big season. Problem. Batum is the starter and has said he wants to start. Idoka, a veteran who plays great defense, could also steal minutes at small forward. Outlaw backs up Aldridge at power forward too... However Juwan Howard has played great this preseason and in practice. Will he take some of Outlaws minutes?
McMillan has his hands full. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the situations at hand. I really think this team is TOO deep with young talent... In the WRONG kind of way.
This is crazy. This team with all of this ridiculous amount of talent may just implode. I can understand the Blazers wanting Miller to come off the bench, but the question I have is whether or not he was told this up front. I would say that the majority of people would have assumed that he would be the starter. It seems there are a lot of guys complaining and a lot of guys wanting more touches and more playing time. This is where the argument comes in that the Blazers have too much talent. I think this really signals a time for the Blazers to start making moves now. They won't have as much depth, but they should be able to make moves to have a better group of core (top 8) guys and still some good reserves.
Portland have a good and a bad problem and a lot of players that play have egos. You think Roy and Lamarcus don't. They have to also realize they have to adjust for all the talent they have. Portland needs Oden so Oden needs to get touches. Oden is the better prospect. I would not be hurt if Aldridge left because Oden and some more physical 4 would whole that front court down
Yea, they may be too deep for there own good as Tezo said. There's little doubt that they have the most depth in the NBA, but getting some of their guys to take a committee approach has been a problem so far. And that's probably how it should be. Sounds crazy huh? But hear me out, I would rather have a bunch of talented guys that are ready to breakout and try and voice their opinions about PT than talented but shy guys that waste their abilities by rotting on the bench and not getting better because of too much depth. The Blazers have a bunch of trading pieces and I think they should try and pull a trade to get Raymond Felton and other pieces to them by giving up Outlaw, Miller or Bayless. It would have to be a multiple team trade though more than likely, but they have so many guys that would be successful if given prominent roles on other teams.
I think one problem is that the Blazers are rushing everything. After last season I still thought they were at least a couple of years away, and I felt the same even after the Miller signing. I think signing Miller showed that they wanted to be title contenders now, but I don't think Aldridge or Oden is ready yet. Aldridge still has a lot of work to do as far as defense and rebounding goes and you have to keep Oden healthy while building up his confidence. Bayless should have already been getting playing time or at least be in the position to get at least 18-20 minutes a game so they know what to do with him. I think Roy and Oden are your main pieces because those are the two guys that have to lead you to the championship. With that said, it's a matter of how does everyone else fit in. The guys that complement those two the best can stay, but everyone is expendable. You really don't have to have a true pg with Roy on the floor, which I always thought they should have explored the option of Roy and Fernandez on the court together at times.
Too much talent and not enough minutes for everyone to play.
wait so are we only gonna post the bad things?..cuz roy was also quoted as saying he loves working with miller?..plus who isnt confused or unsure about a new offense being put in...good lord ya'll are taking this wayyyyyy beyond the importance that it needs to be. early preseason is where alot of teams try new things..this is nothing new