These last twelve months have made it abundantly clear that the NBA is business first, and basketball second. Despite that, there are some moments that have made us forget - if only for an hour or two. They are those moments that we fall in love with as basketball fans. Not fans of a particular team, or a particular city, but simply fans of basketball who are willing to follow a beat writer's tweets from a hotel lobby in hopes that we'll be there to see one again. They are those moments that keep us coming back to the NBA, no matter what. A moment like Brandon Roy provided last season.
I've never been to Portland, never rooted for the Blazers, and never really had a rooting interest in Brandon Roy specifically either to be honest. For a time I considered him the most underrated player in the Association. For a time he was without a doubt a top-10 NBA talent. It was sad to see him get hurt, whether you ever rooted for him or not. You couldn't help but respect the fact that he tried to play on two ailing knees before he probably should have, and it was even tougher to then see him not able to do what he once did so effortlessly.
Then Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals happened. He was absolutely incredible again. He came off the bench with his team down twenty-three in the second half and brought the Blazers all the way back by himself. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter, 24 for the game, and tied the series at two games apiece with the team who eventually won the NBA title. On that Saturday afternoon in April, the basketball world watched with amazement. I was up off my couch cheering for the guy by myself in my Cleveland living room. Everybody was, wherever they were. For that moment it truly was just a game. Hobbled or not, Brandon Roy was once again the best player on the floor. He couldn't be stopped.
With that lasting image in the minds of basketball fans everywhere, the Portland Trailblazers have reportedly decided to now open this lockout shortened NBA season with the reminder once again that this NBA thing is indeed simply a business. As if David Stern, Billy Hunter, the Trade Association, and CBA lawyers didn't already make that point as clear as possible over the last five months.
The report is that Brandon Roy is done in Portland. It doesn't look like they're even going to invite him into the facility to see how he's feeling. He makes too much money, represents too much of a luxury tax hit, and Paul Allen doesn't want him around anymore as a result.
This according to The Oregonian yesterday:
"Brandon's out," a league executive told me Monday. "Don't know the exact details, but everyone around the league knows it's way, way done. Paul and Bert (Kolde) are calling the shots on this one."
If you wondered who would follow Kevin Pritchard and succeed Rich Cho in the cursed Portland GM seat, we apparently have a two-headed solution. And so it appears that the Blazers new brain trust – Allen and his childhood pal – is ready to make the first basketball mistake of this "BFF" era.
If he can't play anymore, sure. Makes total sense. The guy makes $15 million a year. Lots of back-to-backs in a shortened season. But there's no sense in flushing the three-time All Star before you've taken a long look at him in training camp, watched him run, and gauged whether a long offseason has been good to his knees. Maybe even seen him in a scrimmage.
Allen makes that hasty move, and we all see right through him, don't we?
Yeah, we most certainly do. Unfortunately. A business move by a business man who probably didn't get as caught up on that April afternoon as we all did. Brandon Roy was an extremely valuable asset before he got hurt. Now he's just not worth the luxury tax hit, no matter how epic he was that particular day or any collection of days before that. Not even worth the risk of one last look.
The season is back on, and Brandon Roy appears to be about to get Amnesty Clause'd before he ever jogs out to his first lay-up line. Great start guys.
Here's hoping he lands somewhere with a chance to prove Paul Allen way, way wrong for making this move he's apparently "way, way done" making already.
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