It seems like so long ago that Portland pulled off that brilliant draft-day move that brought Brandon Roy to Rip City.
The Minnesota Timberwolves had drafted Roy No. 6 overall, but sent him to the Trail Blazers for No. 7 pick Randy Foye, whom Portland had acquired earlier that day for two players and a draft pick.
The Blazers' two-part deal to get Roy wound up looking like this:
- Portland gained: Brandon Roy, Dan Dickau, Raef LaFrentz.
- Portland gave: Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, 2008 second-round pick.
Even with those ailing knees that led him to retire before last season, the deal was a steal for Portland, and it left the Timberwolves with the short end of the stick, as Roy went on to earn Rookie of the Year honors and was named to the All-Star team three times.
He quickly endeared himself to the Blazers faithful with his style on the court and his class off the court. A franchise and a fan base that was still stinging from the effects of the Jail Blazers era embraced the former Washington Husky from Seattle as if he were a native Oregonian. Watching him retire early, due to chronic knee problems, was about as tough for many fans as watching Clyde Drexler leave for Houston in 1995.
It was easy for Blazers fans to cheer for Drexler the Rocket that year, because Portland was already out of playoff contention and all Clyde wanted was a chance to contend for a title. He did, and alongside former college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon, he got one.
I suspect more than a few Blazers fans will cheer on Roy's individual efforts in Minnesota, and since he couldn't return to Portland, after the Blazers used the amnesty clause to wipe his contract off the books, he's at least headed to a Portland-friendly franchise.
T-wolves coach Rick Adelman is a former Blazers head coach -- and one of the more successful coaches in franchise history -- and assistant Bill Bayno coached Roy while he was a Portland assistant. Power forward Kevin Love played high school ball in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland, and point guard Luke Ridnour starred at the University of Oregon.
Of course, Minnesota won't be getting the same Brandon Roy who flourished in Portland. He says his knees are fine, but there's no doubt he's lost a step after all the surgeries and rehab. Even if he's not as physical or agile as he once was, he'll contribute to the Timberwolves, his leadership and locker room presence alone making him a valuable commodity.
Adam Sparks has followed the Portland Trail Blazers since the early 1980s, and has written about the team as a freelancer since 2009.