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Archive for Thursday, July 6, 2006

Crazy Kevin’ should be promoted

Blazers need to act quickly and reward former Kansas University player Pritchard, who ran 2006 draft

July 6, 2006

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— It was a slow day Thursday at One Center Court, which is only to say the Trail Blazers did not trade any of their 2007 draft picks.

A homeless guy who said he lives on the waterfront was resting in the shade near the Rose Garden arena. And a man in a navy sport coat walked up to the box office in the early afternoon, looking for a Blazers season schedule.

But there was no line for tickets. And when you called the sales office, it always rang exactly once before someone answered and let you know you could still sit just about anywhere in the building if you were interested.

Which is only to say that Blazers fans, even the ones drunk with the euphoria of Wednesday's flurry of draft-day activity, understand that there still is heavy lifting to do in Portland.

First, the franchise needs to end the ridiculous charade and name player personnel director Kevin Pritchard the general manager. I know some of the delay has been to avoid the appearance of Pritchard, John Nash's onetime underling, taking the boss' job, but let's get real.

They fired Nash and traded away his prized draft pick, Sebastian Telfair. They're still worried about his feelings?

The worst-kept secret of the entire draft is that this was former Kansas University guard Pritchard's baby. For the first time in a long time, the franchise operated like one that wasn't being run by committee.

There was no paralysis, finally. There was no delay in decision making, finally. Make no mistake: There was a single finger on the franchise trigger for the first time since former president and general manager Bob Whitsitt left. And the finger belonged to Pritchard.

Owner Paul Allen's search for Nash's replacement ended late in the first round on Wednesday. You remember "Trader Bob"? Well, now we have "Crazy Kevin, Mayor of Bartertown." Or something like that.

Promote him to general manager already.

Trading Darius Miles and, maybe, too, Zach Randolph, can't happen this summer if the franchise is tied up in meetings, interviewing inferior candidates in an attempt to make the process look good to the public.

This summer, Pritchard will have to remember to bend his knees, keep his feet shoulder-width apart and get a good grip. Because trading Dr. Darius and Mr. Miles is going to be slightly harder than lifting the Fremont Bridge and carrying it down the interstate.

The person charged with trading Miles must first have autonomy, the confidence of Allen and all available measures at his disposal. This includes the attractive contracts of Juan Dixon ($2.5 million), Travis Outlaw ($1.8 million) and Steve Blake ($1.1 million).

The Blazers don't absolutely need to deal Randolph, but with the addition of power forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Raef LaFrentz, they now have that option.

Promote Pritchard to general manager. Then, turn him loose like he was on draft day. Because unless you're active, you're not really rebuilding. You're just sitting around, resting.

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