NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, October 30th (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (0-0) at Phoenix Suns (0-0), 10 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers will try to get back to the playoffs starting Wednesday night when they open the season with a visit to the Phoenix Suns.
Portland missed the postseason the last two seasons after three straight first-round exits. But the Blazers won five more games than the season before and feature an exciting roster of young players.
The most important of which is LaMarcus Aldridge. The two-time All-Star has posted incredible numbers since he's become the focal point of the franchise, but it hasn't translated into any postseason appearances.
Last season, the next piece of the puzzle was last season's Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard. He was fantastic in his NBA debut season and looks to build this season with Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Robin Lopez and some other great offseason acquisitions.
After finishing with a embarrassingly bad second unit last season, the Blazers built a bench. They drafted C.J. McCollum, who will miss time thanks to a broken foot, traded for Thomas Robinson, who is wandering the NBA like a nomad, signed Mo Williams, Joel Freeland. Meyers Leonard and picked up sharp- shooter Allen Crabbe.
"This is still a process, but everything we did this offseason was with one goal in mind. We're going to continue to develop our young guys, it's just not going to come at the expense of winning games," GM Neil Olshey proclaimed at Portland's media day. "I think we're talented enough (to make the playoffs)."
Phoenix is not.
They weren't before a week ago either, but on Friday, the Suns traded Marcin Gortat, who was on the last year of a contract, and a slew of marginal players, for Emeka Okafor and a 2014 first-round pick.
The move should free up time for this year's first-round pick, Alex Len, to play more center. It also frees up cap space, gives them possibly four first- round choices in the incredibly rich 2014 NBA Draft and puts them in a position to lose more games, which will give the Suns more ping-pong balls in pursuit of Andrew Wiggins.
"Having potentially four picks in the first round of this upcoming draft is huge for us," said Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. "Whether we keep the picks and draft six first-rounders over the next two years or whether we package some of them for a great player, we have a lot of flexibility and valuable currency."
The Suns definitely have a plan, but the product on the floor this season is going to be bad.
First-year head coach Jeff Hornacek will have a rough go of it, but his team will be anchored by his backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The latter came over in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers and most expect him to post big numbers now that he'll be outside the shadow of Chris Paul.
The Suns won two of three last season versus Portland and have captured four straight against the Blazers in Arizona.
10/30 10:27:15 ET