Trail Blazers at midseason, and All-Star reserves
11:55
The Oregonian: 
We'll get started in a few minutes. Mike Tokito will be with us to talk Blazers at the midway point, All-Star reserves and whatever other NBA topics might be on your mind.
Monday January 21, 2013 11:55 The Oregonian
11:55
[Comment From Choong HuhChoong Huh: ] 
yay we're live
Monday January 21, 2013 11:55 Choong Huh
11:58
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Is this sucker working?
Monday January 21, 2013 11:58 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
11:58
The Oregonian: 
It is indeed.
Monday January 21, 2013 11:58 The Oregonian
11:59
The Oregonian: 
OK, let's get the questions rolling ...
Monday January 21, 2013 11:59 The Oregonian
11:59
[Comment From JaredJared: ] 
Is it just me or are the starters just looking forward to a break?
Monday January 21, 2013 11:59 Jared
12:00
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
OK, let's. Jared -- I do think they are a little tired, but that's pretty much the case for any starter during the season.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:00 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:01
The Oregonian: 
What's been the biggest surprise to you in the first half of the Blazers' season, Mike?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:01 The Oregonian
12:03
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
I frankly surprised at the record. It's a weird one as the Blazers have lost to a lot of subpar teams (Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, Sac twice, Toronto) but have gotten some quality wins over Spurs, Heat, Nuggets.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:03 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:04
[Comment From NewEraBlazerNewEraBlazer: ] 
I figured 35 wins would be a dream season for my Blazers this season. they are exceeding my expectations, but I don't think they are much better than a .500 club this year. How many wins will it take to secure a playoff spot this year?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:04 NewEraBlazer
12:05
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
New -- The West is surprisingly weak, especially with the Lakers and Mavericks way down, so 44 wins might do it.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:05 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:05
[Comment From ShelbyShelby: ] 
Does Aldridge still seem happy? Think he wants to stay and will resign here?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:05 Shelby
12:05
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Some years, it takes 50 wins to make playoffs out of West, but that won't be the case.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:05 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:06
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Yeah, I think Aldridge is fine. He's under contract through 2014-15, so no big rush to extend him. They do have to get him some help inside and get his minutes down, though.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:06 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:07
[Comment From Choong HuhChoong Huh: ] 
i'm a believer that the team should be built this trade deadline instead of the coming free agency because 1. it would be good to sell Hickson when his value is high, 2. it would be bad to draft 3 more rookies when we already have this many, 3. no good talent presents at the free agency really, and 4. this season can still turn out pretty good with more talents. I would love Kosta Koufos + Anthony Randolph in Portland. Insights?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:07 Choong Huh
12:09
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Choong -- Hickson is tricky because under a provision in the CBA, Blazers cannot trade him without his permission, and I'm not sure he would go anywhere without securing an extension first. I think Hickson might have more value in July, when Blazers can sign-and-trade him after taking care of their own free agency needs.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:09 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:09
[Comment From JohnnyJohnny: ] 
What do you think about acquiring al Jefferson? What would it take to get him?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:09 Johnny
12:10
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Al Jefferson would be a extremely hard to get during the season as he is making $15 million this season. He'll become an unrestricted free agent after the season, though.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:10 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:11
[Comment From NewEraBlazerNewEraBlazer: ] 
Bureau for Lakers implosion by the way. Is it better for the club in the long run to get a lottery pick? I see that as another tradeable asset to help the team improve the bench with good veterans, but I'd honestly rather establish a culture of winning than miss the playoffs.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:11 NewEraBlazer
12:13
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
New -- The problem the Blazers face is that they traded this year's first-round pick to Charlotte as part of Gerald Wallace deal, top-12 protected. So if they make playoffs or just miss, they would have to give their pick to Charlotte.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:13 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:13
[Comment From JohnnyJohnny: ] 
Do we have the money to sign al?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:13 Johnny
12:13
Will the Blazers make the playoffs this season?
Yes
 ( 64% )
No
 ( 36% )

Monday January 21, 2013 12:13 
12:14
[Comment From NewEraBlazerNewEraBlazer: ] 
AUTOCERRECT FAIL. I meant BRAVO. I am in support of creating a Lakers Implosion Bureau, however.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:14 NewEraBlazer
12:14
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Johnny -- Olshey was guessing about $13 million cap space for next summer, but they're trying to fill more than one need. I'd guess Jefferson is a little out of reach.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:14 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:14
Which player has been the biggest surprise this season?
Damian Lillard
 ( 42% )
Nicolas Batum
 ( 17% )
Wesley Matthews
 ( 0% )
LaMarcus Aldridge
 ( 0% )
J.J. Hickson
 ( 42% )

Monday January 21, 2013 12:14 
12:15
[Comment From Choong HuhChoong Huh: ] 
Do you think Aldridge and Hickson should perhaps switch position because of their heights..? Do you know if Aldridge is refusing to do that?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:15 Choong Huh
12:15
[Comment From ShelbyShelby: ] 
can we please sign Reddick?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:15 Shelby
12:16
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Choong -- That's just a listing thing. They switch assignments all the time, get switched by other team. You could almost list both guys as posts and it would be the same.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:16 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:17
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Shelby -- Redick would be exactly the kind of guy they want -- great vet shooter off the bench. He's making $6.1 million this season, so might be affordable.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:17 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:17
[Comment From JaredJared: ] 
What are your thoughts on who on the roster might make a reserve spot on the allstar roster?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:17 Jared
12:17
Will LaMarcus Aldridge make the All-Star team as a reserve?
Yes
 ( 67% )
No
 ( 33% )

Monday January 21, 2013 12:17 
12:18
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Jared -- Aldridge is a no-brainer. You could make a case for either Batum or Lillard, but coaches don't like to vote for more than one guy off a non-elite team.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:18 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:18
[Comment From LaGrandeFanLaGrandeFan: ] 
I notice Lillard mostly defers to his teamates and tries to get other guys going during the first half, picking and choosing his shots. With the slow starts as of lately, maybe he should look to score a little earlier? I'd like to see him post a some more 30 pt outings--I know he is capable of it.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:18 LaGrandeFan
12:20
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
LaGrande -- Blazers run way more plays than isos, so Lillard is more making reads than anything else. I think where he really needs to assert himself is when subs come in, and he remains on floor.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:20 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:21
[Comment From ShelbyShelby: ] 
does Olshey make a move at the deadline if so what?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:21 Shelby
12:21
[Comment From Choong HuhChoong Huh: ] 
With 5 rookies on the roster already, should the team package expiring rookie contracts with the 2 second round picks for other expiring role players? (Will Bynum, Austin Daye for example..)
Monday January 21, 2013 12:21 Choong Huh
12:21
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Shelby -- I'm thinking 60-40 he stays pat.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:21 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:22
Should GM Neil Olshey make a move at the trade deadline?
Yes
 ( 78% )
No
 ( 22% )

Monday January 21, 2013 12:22 
12:23
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Choong -- The bigger issue is they don't have a lot of attractive assets to entice deals. With the new luxury tax, expiring contracts aren't quite the assets that they used to be.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:23 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:24
The Oregonian: 
You mentioned that neither has too much of a chance to join Aldridge on the All-Star team, but who do you think deserves a look at a reserve spot more: Lillard or Batum? Also, does Batum have a good shot at the NBA's most improved award this season?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:24 The Oregonian
12:27
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
I'd say Batum based on his all-around play. Lillard is terrific, but gets burned a lot defensively. Most Improved Player is a weird award because it often goes to guys who were very good previously, and I think Batum was already considered pretty good around the league. For a while, Hickson was seen as a good candidate, though.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:27 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:28
[Comment From ShelbyShelby: ] 
if Hickson is not in the long term plans they have to trade for value now dont they?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:28 Shelby
12:28
[Comment From JordanJordan: ] 
How many Blazers do you think will be All Stars next season?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:28 Jordan
12:28
[Comment From JordanJordan: ] 
Tight game in Memphis
Monday January 21, 2013 12:28 Jordan
12:30
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Shelby -- Not necessarily. As I said before, Blazers cannot trade Hickson without his permission because he signed a one-year extension while having Bird rights (weird CBA provision). So they're a little handcuffed there. Also, you can try to get something for Hickson via sign-and-trade after Blazers sign the free agents they want.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:30 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:31
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Jordan -- If Blazers are in the top four in West, maybe two. Unless you're the Lakers or Knicks and get two via fan voting, it's hard to get coaches to vote for more than one guy off a non-elite team. Look at San Antonio.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:31 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:31
[Comment From Greg W.Greg W.: ] 
How is Damian Lillard's ankle? Will he play tonight?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:31 Greg W.
12:32
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Greg -- I think he's fine. Should play.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:32 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:32
[Comment From RentasquidRentasquid: ] 
I love Hicksons hustle...but the guy cant finish around the basket and his defense is a major liability. I dont see them extending him to a bigger better contract in the future.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:32 Rentasquid
12:32
[Comment From ShelbyShelby: ] 
Lillard,Batum,Aldridge Matthews is that core good enough with the addition of free agents to be top 4 seed next year?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:32 Shelby
12:33
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Squid -- Good call on that. But, the Blazers have to have Meyers Leonard develop into a starter or get another center in free agency if they let him go.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:33 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:34
[Comment From JohnnyJohnny: ] 
People keep saying hickson is not in our long term plans, but why? He would be perfect off the bench if we get a starting center
Monday January 21, 2013 12:34 Johnny
12:35
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Shelby -- Starters vs. starters, Blazers can keep up with most teams. Obviously, they need to get deeper as all the elite West teams -- Clips, Spurs, Thunder -- are really, really deep.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:35 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:36
[Comment From MarkMark: ] 
What free agents will the blazers target in the off season?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:36 Mark
12:36
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Johnny -- A lot of it is up to him, if he would be willing to accept that kind of role. I'm not sure he would.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:36 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:38
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Mark -- They need a backup point guard, shooting guard and another center if they don't keep Hickson.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:38 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:39
[Comment From RentasquidRentasquid: ] 
Asked earlier...question not posted...do you see Olshey as the type to cut a player, like Smith or Williams and bring in someone else...midyear?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:39 Rentasquid
12:39
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
BTW, the two big available free agents this summer are Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Not saying Blazers have any chance, but they will be there.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:39 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:41
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
Squid -- No reason to unless you have a specific need or injuries. It's not as if there are great players in the D-League who can instantly fix your bench.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:41 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:41
The Oregonian: 
Folks, let's leave it there for now. Thanks for all the questions today. And thanks to Mike for taking the time. Final thoughts, Mike?
Monday January 21, 2013 12:41 The Oregonian
12:43
Mike Tokito, The Oregonian: 
I would say don't forget what your expectations were for the season, don't forget how awful last season was and try to enjoy the ride. This team is entertaining, if nothing else.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:43 Mike Tokito, The Oregonian
12:43
The Oregonian: 
Thanks, everyone.
Monday January 21, 2013 12:43 The Oregonian
 
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