Following last season’s surprise second-round playoff appearance, the Portland Trail Blazers are 15-21 and struggling badly. ESPN’s Chris Haynes has a good story examining the Blazers’ summer, and why they failed to sign any free agent of note, re-signed all their own players, gave way too much money to Evan Turner, and took a flyer on a cheap contract for the oft-injured former Warriors center Festus Ezeli.
After showing promising signs during training camp, Ezeli was shut down because of recurring knee problems, and he hasn’t played yet this season. According to Haynes, Ezeli is likely to have surgery and miss the rest of the season. But the fact that he isn’t playing doesn’t mean Ezeli hasn’t been involved with the team:
After suffering a challenging, 115-107 loss to Milwaukee, Ezeli, in street clothes, addressed the team in the locker room with a stern speech centered on playing with urgency, sources told ESPN. Then two games later, after a crushing defeat in Memphis, Ezeli once again started giving a team speech, but he was cut short.
McCollum interrupted Ezeli in midsentence and told him that was enough, sources told ESPN. Portland was in the midst of an emotionally draining December, losing 11 of 13 games. Players were desperately pouring out every ounce of effort trying to change the trajectory of the season, and being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably.
Yeah, I’d be pretty annoyed if Kyle Wagner lectured me about needing to blog more. Welcome to Portland, Festus, now enjoy shutting up while the Blazers try to figure out why they suck.