After years of trade rumors and speculation concerning the status of Travis Outlaw as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, we're starting to wonder if his run has finally come to an end. Is there still room for him? Does he fit the direction of this team? Or has his one dribble, head down, pull-up J finally run its course in the City of Roses?
While watching the Fan Fest scrimmage, you could immediately see a new maturity in LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Then there was the almost stunning realization that Nicolas Batum could be more than just another role playing small forward in the NBA and also that Martell Webster had seemingly returned from injury with a new hunger and outlook. There was Juwan Howard, the savvy veteran power forward, who compliments the style of new Blazer Andre Miller in terms of looking first to big man Greg Oden and his newly shaped game. And then there was Travis Outlaw.
During media day he said all the right things which of course came after announcing throughout the summer that he'd be "gettin' paid like out of this world." Not that I've ever looked at Travis Outlaw as the type of player that would take extra steps in a contract year to make sure he is actually "gettin' paid like out of this world" but it definitely sent an odd message.
Then Fan Fest arrived and we got our first look at the work he had put in during the off-season which apparently meant learning how to dribble not once, but maybe even two or three times before jacking up from any spot on the floor. With Outlaw on the court, the fluid team effort which we were enjoying so much seemed to come to a screeching halt. "What the hell is he doing?" I kept saying to myself.
On a team who's coach keeps preaching for guys to buy in, can Outlaw ante up? The Blazers have found the perfect compliment to Greg Oden with the addition of Juwan Howard who seems more than eager to feed the big man and at this stage in his career, cares only about winning a championship. With Aldridge and Oden working through contract negotiations, this may be the perfect time to shed the expiring $4 million owed to the last remaining player from the "Jail Blazer" era.