Don't get me wrong, I enjoy them. But I also enjoy meditation, and that is the most boring activity imaginable.
Year after year, game after game, you're watching the same stuff play out in slightly variant patterns. Pitch, swing, shoot, pass. Over and over and over they go. But there are points of beautiful, perfect convergence that make it all worth it.
Once, the Blazers had that perfect moment in a big way, when their oddball, maladjusted squad won the NBA Championship in 1977. But for the most part, the moments are little—a Drexler dunk here, a Lillard shot there, Sabonis finally arriving on American shores at 31 and making magic with his perfect fingers.
But the Blazers' fan base has been having some trouble with it lately. The squad is good, interesting at times, but they don't succeed at the level the team's fans—passionate, loyal and carrying an inferiority complex the size of LeBron James' arms—would like them too.
On the eve of a new NBA season, coming off a disappointing first-round sweep and another summer when the front office did nothing of much consequence, I encourage you to see beyond this. The Blazers don't need someone to make them better. They need someone to inject the team, and the city, with extra beauty and wonder and excitement. They need the wildest trade imaginable.
Here are five ideal options.
CJ MCCOLLUM FOR JIMMY BUTLER
Butler is a top-tier NBA shooting guard who is sick and tired of playing with children in freezing-ass Minnesota. Say what you will about them, but the Blazers are not children. They are lumpen middle-aged men, plying their trade in a half-court system. Butler, in this way, would fit right in.
But he is also a chaotic wind, a lightning cloud of madness—a dude who lives to be angry at his teammates, his coach, the front office. He would be joining the Blazers in a contract year, ready to show the world why he deserves to take home a big sack of money in free agency, and he will play like it, in ways both good and bad. All anyone would be able to talk about is whether the team had any chance of re-signing him. It would be so stressful. And a lot of fun, if you ask me.
MEYERS LEONARD AND ZACH COLLINS FOR LAMARCUS ALDRIDGE
Yes, Aldridge left Portland five years ago, bumming everyone out and setting off a mass exodus. Yes, his relationship with Damian Lillard seems a little weird. Yes, he is maybe the most boring player imaginable. All these things are true.
But reports suggest his time getting screamed at by Coach Pop every day has made him a little softer to the past, and the pure, psychic drama of everyone on the team getting together to hash out their problems on the court would be truly thrilling. Every glance would be stuffed with meaning, the stakes of every Lillard-Aldridge pick-and-roll higher than you can imagine. Will he get along with Nurk? Does he shoot threes now? It's just every unknowable a player can bring to the table, sitting there, tormenting the viewer. Essential viewing.
This trade presumes the Spurs have a slow start—which is possible, considering their extremely weird roster, with no shooting, but maybe not likely considering their amazing coach, who seems to make everything work—and are looking to get in the market for some rebuilding pieces. The Blazers could take advantage by sending over Meyers Leonard, the King of Salary Cap Detritus, and Zach Collins, a decent-looking young prospect, and bring the L-Train home.
MAURICE HARKLESS FOR JR SMITH
This has very little to do with the on-court product. Sure, watching JR get his hoist on would be a delight and a half, and you have to imagine he would strike up some pretty unconventional friendships.
But get the hell outta here. Smith's on the team because seeing him around Portland, just doing shit, would be the event of the century in this dusty, two-horse town.
"Yo, I saw him at Saturday Market! He had his shirt off and he was drinking a big-ass Pepsi!"
"Yeah, well, last week, he was at Scottie's, over on Division. His pizza had, like, ham on it."
"He was at the Fucked Up show last night. I don't even think he knows who they are!"
"Yeah, well, my friend, she works at Tusk. Apparently, he's in all the time. Houses flatbread."
"Hey, guys, I saw JR throw a scooter off the St. Johns Bridge last night! Why was he even out there!?"
DAMIAN LILLARD FOR CHRIS PAUL
Lillard is a swell guy—inclusive, great teammate, doing everything he can to make his teammates comfortable and productive.
I'm sick of it.
Let's get old-ass, end-of-career Chris Paul up in this bad boy. Screaming at teammates. Denigrating young players. Constantly standing over tubs full of sand, running it through his hands and wondering where the time went, if he'll ever be able to make his dreams of title glory come true. Maybe, if we're lucky, he'll take to swilling bottles of merlot, staring at the Willamette, wondering where it all got away from him.
Paul can also transition into a front office position, where he will stare at computers and anxiously devour pencils and vomit all the time because he's so worried the team is going to lose and so freaked out he can't do anything about it. So that's good too.
THE ENTIRE SQUAD FOR A HOCKEY TEAM
Hey, man, who the hell knows? Maybe it's time for basketball in Portland to end altogether. We won't know, I think, until we just bite the bullet and trade the entire squad for an NHL team. Which one? I don't know. I don't know anything about hockey. Maybe the…Sabers? They're a team, right? Does Sacramento have a hockey team? I'll bet they can support two NBA teams. It's a great NBA town.
Anyway, we spend a year totally ignoring hoops, all get really into pro hockey, see if we're into it. If not? Just trade them back! Pretty easy, you ask me. Maybe Portland can learn something new about themselves!
SEE IT: Anfernee Simons and the Portland Trail Blazers open their season against Michael Beasley and the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center, 1 N Center Court St., on Thursday, Oct. 11. 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $67.50.