Did the Blazers hold a press conference for Neil Olshey yesterday or was that the coming out party for Kaleb Canales? The way Olshey was talking about the guy was if the Blazers had Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach waiting in the wings. Listen, Kaleb Canales might be a hard worker and a really nice guy but he’s not the right guy for this job. When Olshey said “I don’t see anyone bringing more to the table than Kaleb Canales” I was a little more than surprised. Canales is a guy that has only been an assistant coach since the 2008-2009 season and it wasn’t like he exactly tore it up when he took over for Nate McMillan. Canales coached the final 23 games of the season, which saw the Blazers go 8-15. I’m not saying it was his fault the team finished poorly. The Blazers traded Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace and would lose LaMarcus Aldridge to injury, so it wasn’t like he was playing with a full deck. At the same time, he had some major flaws. The defense didn’t get any better, the offense sets weren’t anything special and he wasn’t sure what to do when it came to timeouts. When Canales called a timeout he would turn to assistant Bernie Bickerstaff to see if he should take a full or a :20. Once Bickerstaff gave Canales the sign, Canales would then let the ref know. On offense, you would see Joel Przybilla on the same side of the court as LaMarcus Aldridge at times. Why would you ever have Przybilla on the elbow and Aldridge on the block on the same side of the floor? That allowed for an easy double team because the guy guarding Przybilla would go front Aldridge and leave Przybilla wide open because Przybilla isn’t any kind of a threat free throw line extended. As far as the defense goes…well that was brutal all season. Going back to the “I don’t see anyone bringing more to the table than Kaleb Canales” comment. Really Neil? I get he’s your guy and you two shared a nice long man hug when you first saw each other yesterday but even you can’t really believe that. He’s better than Jerry Sloan, Jeff or Stan Van Gundy? Please. You might laugh about Jerry Sloan because a lot of people say “he would never come to Portland” but at least check with the guy. See what his interest is/could or might be in the position. His good friend and former assistant, Gordon Chiesa says he thinks Sloan will coach next year and that Portland is a real option. (read Sloan post below for audio)
With that being said, I want Canales to remain with the Blazers. The guy is only 33 years old an has a bright future ahead of him. Remember, this is a guy that hasn’t even been a lead assistant in the NBA yet. In fact, if you looked at the Blazer bench last year, Canales didn’t even sit in the front row. He sat behind the bench where the injured players sit. Let him learn from another coach and soak everything in. Then if he’s the guy, he’s the guy. I look at Canales a lot like a top prospect in baseball. The Houston Astros selected Carlos Correa with the first pick in the MLB draft yesterday. Although he’s very talented and could be a star in a few years, you can’t bring him straight up to the majors. Could he go to the dish and hit a 95 mph fastball? Yeah probably. But can he hit a 92 mph slider on the corner in front of 40,000 fans? Probably not. The kid is going to need time down in the minors to work on his craft. Let him hit each level of minor league ball. See what Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A action is all about before bringing him up to the show. Same thing with Canales. He’s got a taste of Single-A ball and even had a September call up when the Blazers named him interim head coach but it’s time for him to go back down to the minors for a couple of years. Again, the guy is 33 years old. His time will come…it just shouldn’t be now.
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