So, goodbye Nolan Smith?
Smith's perspective is that he was never given a fair shake in Portland. Last season's NBA lockout stalled and complicated his development from Day 1. A harried training camp sabotaged the Blazers -- and Smith's growth -- and a frenetic season that was heavy on games and light on practices shackled a player that earned first-team All-American honors and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as a senior in college.
But what about this season? Smith had a full summer, a full training camp and a full slate of practices and games to show his value. The Blazers have been desperate for bench production since opening night and Smith never seized the opportunity. He was unable to beat out Ronnie Price in training camp and, when Price went down with an ankle injury, never was able to gain the trust of coach Terry Stotts.
Smith says it's hard for a player to show his talent and develop a feel for the NBA during a three- or four-minute shift. Team insiders respond by saying that, while Smith worked hard behind the scenes in practices and workouts, he never showed enough ability and confidence to earn a rotation spot.