Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, bottom, dives after a loose ball as Utah Jazz guard Sundiata Gaines, top, defends during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010. The Jazz defeated the Trail Blazers 100-96. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley) - AP

Preparation in Portland

PORTLAND — For the past two years, Brandon Roy has gone into the season with very specific goals.

First, it was to make the playoffs, then it was to advance out of the first round. But last season Portland was blindsided by an epidemic of injuries, including Roy's own knee problems.

The experience struck Portland's All-Star shooting guard, who said the Blazers' goal this season is to prepare for anything.

"I'm kind of throwing the whole goal thing out the window," Roy said. "We're going to prepare. We're going to prepare to win the division, and we're going to prepare to get out of the first round. I don't know how we're going to write that ... We're going to work, that's the most important thing."

Roy's sentiment doesn't necessarily mean that he has lowered his expectations, it means he is more realistic. The Blazers won 50 games last season and went to the playoffs, but they did it with the league's second-most games missed by players because of injuries.

Portland was ousted in the first round by Phoenix. While on the surface all the injuries seemed to take a toll, many questioned whether the team lacked the piece that would take it to the next level.

There was anticipation that the Blazers might deal in the offseason for an elite player — Chris Paul's name was mentioned most frequently — but then the franchise was thrown into turmoil.

Rumors had swirled for months about general manager Kevin Pritchard's job security. Still, it came as a surprise when he was fired just hours before the NBA draft was to start.

To make it even more surreal, Pritchard stayed for the draft and helped Portland select Memphis guard Elliot Williams at No. 22 and Nevada's Armon Johnson at No. 34.

The Blazers traded forward Martell Webster to the Minnesota Timberwolves for veteran forward Ryan Gomes and Nevada's Luke Babbitt, the 16th overall selection. Gomes was later waived.

The Blazers went on to bring in Rich Cho, the former Oklahoma City assistant general manager, as their new GM. Coach Nate McMillan also shook up his staff, appointing veteran coach Bernie Bickerstaff, Bob Ociepka and former Blazer Buck Williams as assistants.

Needless to say, the Blazers never did make a blockbuster move.

The Blazers did sign shooting guard Wesley Matthews after the Utah Jazz declined to meet Portland's five-year, $34 million offer for the restricted free agent. Matthews averaged 9.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes for the Jazz last season as a rookie.

Adding to the offseason turmoil was the saga of Spanish swingman Rudy Fernandez, who proclaimed that he didn't feel comfortable in the NBA and wanted to go home to play in Europe.

Fernandez, a two-year veteran, is known for his flashy skills and spark off the bench. He averaged 8.1 points per game last season, a drop off from his 10.4-point average as a rookie.

Despite his complaints, Fernandez had an inspired preseason with 21 3-pointers in seven games.

By far the biggest issue the Blazers face is ongoing injury problems at center.

Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla have continued through the fall to rehab from knee surgeries that cut last season short for both players.

Przybilla appeared to be closest to a return, already participating in contact practice. McMillan said the 7-foot-1 veteran could be back by mid-November.

Przybilla ruptured his right patella tendon and required surgery twice last season — once after the initial injury in late December, then again in March when he re-injured the knee after a fall in his shower.

Oden was another matter. There is no timetable for the former No. 1 draft pick's return.

He broke his right kneecap during a game last December against the Houston Rockets, the latest of several injuries he's sustained since he came into the league.

McMillan said Marcus Camby will start at center until either Oden or Przybilla, or both, return. The Blazers were hurt in the preseason when Camby's expected backup, Jeff Pendergraph, injured his knee and will need season-ending surgery.

As a result, the Blazers instead will move over LaMarcus Aldridge — who put on some 15 pounds in the offseason — to spell Camby.

Barring additional injuries, the Blazers' starting five should be Roy, Andre Miller at point, Aldridge and Nicolas Batum at forward and Camby at center.

Roy wasn't taking anything for granted.

"Talk is talk. We can say what we want right now, it doesn't mean anything," he said. "We're going to prepare. I think that's the next step, to make sure we're prepared to win a playoff series."

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