It didn’t get as much pub as some of the other trade-deadline moves, but acquiring Arron Afflalo could pay huge postseason dividends for a Portland Trail Blazers team vying for a top-four seed in the Western Conference.
Portland (36-19) had dropped back-to-back games, but Afflalo, acquired from Denver, should provide some much-needed depth along the perimeter.
“I think Arron will obviously give us some scoring off the bench, and he’s a proven starter in this league,” Portland head coach Terry Stotts said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s started for the last four or five years. He just knows how to play. He’s a very good defender. I think his style of play fits the way we play at both ends of the court. And I think between him, Wes Matthews and (Nicolas) Batum, I think those three guys will just kind of be (split time) at (shooting guard and small forward).”
Still, it has to be a little hard adding a key player midseason, right? After all, teams have spent the last four months establishing their core, establishing their roles and – maybe most importantly – establishing their minutes.
Now that all changes.
Isn’t is hard to assimilate on the fly without a training camp?
“Well, it is and it isn’t,” Stotts said. “Obviously training camp is where you put in your foundation and establish who you are as a team. I think incorporating one player –especially a player like Arron, who’s been in the league and knows the league and has an established game – I think that’s a little bit easier. He knows our guys and we know him, and I think that part of it makes the transition a little bit easier.
“I was in the minor leagues in the CBA, and we used to have players coming and going all the time,” Stotts continued. “That’s a different situation where maybe players don’t know each other as well or don’t know the system or the coach. But when you take a veteran player and bring him into a situation, I think the assimilation goes pretty quickly.”
Indeed, players, coaches and executives will make Afflalo feel welcome. Chemistry is often thought of as something between and among players; in reality, it oftentimes begins in the front office and trickles down throughout the organization.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Stotts said. “I think we’ve got a lot of good-character guys. I think (general manager) Neil Olshey has brought in players who suit our style of play. They rely on each other. I think the success that we’ve had has been because, as you mentioned, our chemistry. But we rely on each other. I think success helps bring chemistry together. The two are kind of tied hand-in-hand.”
All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, meanwhile, missed Sunday’s game against Memphis with a sprained right thumb. Portland lost, 98-92, but Aldridge should be back in the lineup Wednesday against San Antonio (34-22).
Aldridge also has a torn ligament in his left thumb but has elected to put off surgery and play through the pain.
“You’re always concerned about injuries – and nagging injuries, in particular – that affect a player,” Stotts said. “But he came back. He made the decision to play through his left thumb (injury), and he’s been playing very well. I think the confidence that he has now playing with a little bit of a splint on his left hand, he’s playing very well. You’re always concerned about players’ health and what could happen. But . . . at the (end) of the season, everybody’s banged up and playing through injuries and playing through things for the good of the team.”