NBA Saturday: McMillan On the Hot Seat
There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Portland Trail Blazers’ disappointing season.
However, many people within the organization are quick to point the finger at head coach Nate McMillan, who is currently on the hot seat. Portland entered the season as a dark horse to contend in the Western Conference, but now sits outside the playoff picture with a 19-21 record.
Sources close to the situation believe that McMillan has lost the locker room. According to one source, there’s a growing number of players who would like to see McMillan fired, with assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff taking over as interim head coach. Bickerstaff has coached the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats, accumulating 414 wins throughout his career.
The players aren’t the only ones who are questioning McMillan. Sources within the organization have criticized the coach’s rotations and in-game adjustments. It’s always telling when a head coach has seemingly run out of answers, and that appears to be the case in Portland. One team source said that McMillan “has no idea what to do” as the Blazers slip further down the standings.
The Blazers have lost 11 of their last 16 games, including losses to struggling teams like the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors.
After last night’s 18-point loss to the Boston Celtics, McMillan criticized his players for their lack of fight and effort. At one point, Boston’s lead grew to 43 points before they emptied their bench.
“That’s an unprofessional approach,” McMillan told reporters. “There was no basketball being played out there tonight. We can try harder than that. We can play better than that. We pretty much allowed their team to jump on us and I don’t think we responded.”
McMillan’s job hasn’t been easy this season. Brandon Roy was forced to retire before the season, Greg Oden experienced another setback and Raymond Felton hasn’t produced as the team’s starting point guard.
However, this is one of the most talented teams that McMillan has had during his seven-year stint with the Blazers and there’s no question that the team has failed to live up to expectations.
With the trade deadline approaching, there’s a strong possibility that the Blazers will make a move. It seems that everyone outside of LaMarcus Aldridge is available for the right price and Portland has been one of the most active teams in recent weeks. They’ll continue to work the phones and weigh their options over the next five days.
If the Blazers shake up their roster, McMillan may have the remainder of the season to attempt to right the ship. However, there’s no question that he’s on the hot seat and will have to fight for his job.
Boston’s Asking Price for Allen: The Boston Celtics aren’t actively shopping Ray Allen, but they are accepting calls from teams. However, the general consensus around the league is that Boston is overvaluing Allen. Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics, has been asking teams for a talented young player and a first-round pick in exchange for the 36-year-old.
Larry Bird, president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers, couldn’t believe Boston’s asking price when he talked with Ainge recently.
“When Danny and I talked about trading for Ray, he wanted Tyler Hansbrough and a first-round pick,” Bird told ESPN.com. “If that’s the value he’s putting on Ray Allen, he ain’t getting it. That tells me he’s in no hurry to trade him.”
“All that talk about Danny blowing it up, about not making the same mistakes as Red, is fine. But now that it’s his turn to pull the trigger, it’s a hell of a lot harder than it looks.”
Allen will be a free agent this season, which makes it even less likely that a team would give up a young piece for the veteran shooting guard. Also, teams are valuing their first-round picks this year because this draft class is loaded with talent. There are plenty of players with star potential and it’s very deep.
The Los Angeles Clippers have also expressed interest in Allen, but are unlikely to meet Boston’s asking price. The Clippers want to hold onto their core pieces and they don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft.
Allen’s name has kept the rumor mill churning in recent weeks, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be moved before the deadline unless the Celtics come down off their asking price.
Bucks Listening to Offers for Bogut: For the first time, the Milwaukee Bucks have made Andrew Bogut available in trade discussions. In the past, he has always been off limits. Teams wouldn’t ask about Bogut because they knew he was untouchable. That’s no longer the case and the Bucks are listening to offers. No trade is imminent, but Milwaukee is gauging interest in the center and seeing what’s out there.
Sources say that Bogut is open to a trade, which could be the reason for Milwaukee’s change of heart. Publicly, Bogut has denied demanding a trade, but who knows what has been said behind closed doors? Teams, including the Washington Wizards, have already begun to make offers for Bogut.
Bogut fractured his ankle in late-January and may not be able to return to action this season. He is out indefinitely. If he does make a return, it’ll be for several games toward the end of the season. Bogut has developed a reputation as an injury-prone player. Throughout his career, he has seriously injured his foot, elbow, hand and ankle. He has never played a full 82 game season.
If the Bucks do decide to trade Bogut, they will try to package Stephen Jackson in the deal. Jackson has butted heads with head coach Scott Skiles and hasn’t been the contributor that Milwaukee hoped for when they traded for him on draft night. Jackson’s disastrous stint with the Bucks has killed his trade value, which is why he must be tossed into a bigger deal to be moved.
Before the injury, Bogut played in 12 games and averaged 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2 blocks. After this season, he has two more years remaining on his contract.
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