Late last week, the 25-year-old Portland guard blasted the Blazers’ front office and head coach Nate McMillan, saying his mind was made up and he wouldn’t return to the team for this upcoming season. He wants out, and he’ll sooner flee the country and return to his native Spain than play one minute of Blazers basketball in 2010-11.
Fernandez and agent Andy Miller publicly asked the Blazers for a trade on Aug. 18, working through the media to generate some buzz to get the young Spaniard out of the Pacific Northwest. After two years in the Blazer crimson and black, Fernandez wants a new beginning, and he wants a chance to play a bigger role.
The role he played in Portland wasn’t a glamorous one. Fernandez was surrounded by an army of capable Blazers guards — when Brandon Roy, Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless, Steve Blake and Martell Webster are all your teammates, you’re not going to get many opportunities to steal the show. Fernandez played just a touch over 23 minutes per game last season, averaging 8.1 points and 2.6 rebounds. He thinks he has the potential to be much more, but he’s never had the chance to showcase it.
And if he wants to find a new employer who will give him that chance, the Celtics should be the furthest team from his mind.
The C’s are loaded for this upcoming season at every position, including the wing. Their two starters are bona fide Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, each of whom signed a new contract this summer to stay in Boston. Danny Ainge also worked out a new deal for Marquis Daniels and brought in journeyman Von Wafer.
The Celtics are stacked. And the last thing they need is a rising star who’s antsy for more minutes and more touches — the only thing they want is a modest role player who can settle into the position of Doc Rivers’ 15th man. It sure doesn’t seem like Fernandez is that guy.
Rich Cho, who took over as Blazers GM this summer for the fired Kevin Pritchard, has spent his first offseason on the job working on a deal to unload Fernandez. He’s taken calls from all over the league, looking for the best possible offer, but he hasn’t found one that satisfies him.
The Celtics, Bulls and Knicks have emerged as the three teams with the most interest in Fernandez, with Boston and Chicago both offering first-round draft picks and the pick-deprived Knicks instead trying to sell Cho on a Wilson Chandler offer.
The Celtics’ offer is the least enticing of the three — since the Celtics are the best team of the lot, their draft pick will be the lowest.
The C’s are also the worst fit for Fernandez as a player.
If Fernandez were in Boston, it wouldn’t take long for him to get disgruntled again and ask for another trade. He’d have the same problem here as he did in Portland — too many good teammates, not enough time to shine.
Send him to the Bulls, and he could compete for a starting job with newcomer Ronnie Brewer. In New York, he’d vault into the starting five immediately alongside Amare Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton.
In other words, anywhere but Boston. For both parties involved, that’s for the best.
Rudy Fernandez will keep looking for a new home in the NBA post-Portland. And the Celtics will continue in their quest for one last piece to round out their bench. Eventually, both will find what they’re looking for.