In Game 4 of the Blazers' six-game series loss to the Mavericks, Brandon Roy took over in the fourth quarter and showed that, on occasion, he can still be the best player on the floor. The problem with that performance is that it helped obscure that Roy is still a limited player. For the series, he averaged just 23 minutes per game (a stat somewhat skewed by his eight-minute Game 2) and scored in double figures just twice, although he did shoot 22-of-44 from the field for the series. He was, by all available metrics, a good performer off the bench.
"I'm going to want to push to be a starter and help this team win. The goal doesn't change," Roy said Friday as the Blazers left for the offseason. "I think I definitely want to help this team get in position to win and get out of the first round."
Roy admitted that he thought his season, and possibly his career, might be over while he sat out more than two months treating his chronically ailing knees. [...]
"To be able to come back and play and be able to contribute in playoff games is big for me, big for my confidence, especially going forward," Roy said.
This is perhaps a non-story. Basketball players thrive on confidence, and Roy has never been the type to settle for anything short of his goals. If he can only play at his best by aiming to be a starter, then that's what he should try to do.
The problem here is that Roy has proven over the course of at least this whole season that he is best-suited for a reserve role. After Roy's Game 4 heroics, I argued that he and the Blazers should come to mutual agreement that his goal for next season is to be the best 6th man in the league. That's where his career seems to be headed, no matter how much he holds fast to the idea that he can thrive as a starter once again.
There's still time for Roy and his employers to get on the same page here, but it looks increasingly likely that can only happen if he faces some hard truths about the state of his cartilage-free knees. If he can't, then the Blazers may need to think about moving in another direction. When employees and their bosses can't agree on someone's role, it's a recipe for greater problems.