May 27, 2011
Could the Portland Trail Blazers ask Brandon Roy(notes) to retire, thereby saving the team millions in salary cap space once his injury insurance money kicks in? It's a subject that might be broached by the team this offseason.
When the Portland Trail Blazers signed guard Brandon Roy to a maximum contract extension in August of 2009, he had just come off of a blockbuster season that saw him glide his way to a level of production that was just a step below Kobe Bryant's(notes) at his position out West. He had just turned 25 during the offseason, Greg Oden(notes) seemed due to come back, and life appeared rosy for the Blazers.
Oden, obviously, never really returned. And though the Blazers hung on to make the playoffs in the two seasons following, Roy's knees (a concern since his college days) began to significantly deteriorate. He was relegated to acting as an alternate bit-player/superstar last season, offering play that often reminded of his healthier days, while too often coming through with production that had you wondering whether or not Roy deserved his rotation spot. It was that bad.
This is why the Blazers might ask him to voluntarily walk away. From John Canzano:
A source familiar with the situation said Thursday that Portland figures it must deal with Roy's future if it's truly going to rejoin the league's contenders. Retirement for Roy is among the options they're considering.
The Blazers know they hold the distinction of being the only team in the Western Conference that hasn't won a first-round playoff series in the past 10 years (BDL note: !). So they're eager and acting with urgency.
Earlier in his piece, Canzano pointed out that whoever is doing the asking better be ready to "duck" after popping the question, advice I would also pass along.
It's no secret Roy won't be worth anywhere near the money he's making (a little over $68 million over the next four seasons), and if a doctor declares him medically unfit to play (and with his bone-on-bone, no cartilage-condition in his knees, he really is), then the Blazers would see his salary go off the books a year after his declaration. Roy could also un-retire after a year to join a new team, and the Blazers would still be off the hook for his salary.
But if 2010-11 has taught us anything, it's that Roy is a very, very proud individual, who isn't anywhere near even glancing in the direction that might lead him to think he's done. Even as a way to plant a seed in his mind, for something he might decide to do in two years, I can't think of any way this could possibly be seen as something worth discussing. There's already so much enmity between Roy and both his coaching staff and whatever remains of his front office there there's just no point in making it worse. Some might argue that the anger has reached a saturation point, but I still think there's something salvageable here.
Not on the court, though. Those knees just won't really improve much. Roy can take a long lockout break, keep up with the plasma therapy meant to encourage blood movement to those bones that are on bones, but things aren't really getting better.
So there's no point in making it worse. Even if it's the first in a series of small steps that lead the Blazers and Roy toward negotiating a buyout that allows him to play for another team, right away. With the front office upheaval, the raw nerve that was this spring's playoff run, and the ownership vs. labor force lockout looming, it just isn't a good time, y'know?
Not that there ever will be a good time to tell someone like Brandon Roy that you think he's finished as an NBA player.