Ryan Gomes has been officially waived by the Portland Trail Blazers, as had been expected since the Blazers acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marc Spears wondered, via Twitter, whether that could pave the way to Gomes’ return to Boston.
Gomes has been the target of a lot of salivating from Celtics fans over the years. Fans remember Gomes’ basketball IQ, scrappy play, and ability to help a team out in a variety of ways. At least in Boston, Gomes was one of those guys who was underrated until he became overrated.
But it wasn’t just the city of Boston he attracted; he won over the Minnesota fanbase too. (A Wolf Among Wolves)
When Kurt Rambis remarked, on Friday, that “smart players don’t have a problem picking up any offense,” he was talking about players like Gomes. Gomes has never been a terribly dynamic player–by NBA standards he’s an average ballhandler and a slightly below-average athlete–but his feel for the game is almost preternatural. None of his shots in that Memphis game came as a result of physical domination or extreme displays of skill. Instead, as he always does, Gomes allowed the game to flow to him. He found open space on the court; he made sharp, intuitive passes; he allowed the movements of the ball and the other nine players on the court to dictate his decisions. We could wish that his jumper were more consistent or that he were just a bit quicker, but the guy really knows how to play basketball.
On top of that, Gomes is an famously generous, open and friendly guy. He’s one of the only players I’ve met who seems to enjoy shooting the breeze about basketball as much as pasty nerds like me; he was routinely the last player in the locker room after a painful loss, patiently humoring reporters. Being a 5’10″ white dude in an NBA locker room can be a little intimidating; discovering that there was a player willing to look you in the eye and have an actual human conversation made things feel a lot less daunting. I appreciate that.
Amazingly, he seemed able to relate to his teammates even better than he did to reporters. Over and over I saw Gomes seek out frustrated or disgruntled players and, with his funny, rapid-fire banter, bring them back into the fold. Anyone wondering why, during three years of constant, punishing futility, the Wolves never devolved into a churning, fractious mess should look no further than Ryan Gomes.
With Jeff Clark leading the way, all these bloggers and fans are trying their best to convince me to hop on the Ryan Gomes bandwagon. I resisted for a long time, but you know what? I’m almost there. If I read another piece about Gomes being a perfect utility man, flawless teammate and Albert Einstein-esque basketball player, I may have to jump full-bore onto the bandwagon.
As it is now, my brain is still leading the way. And it’s telling me that Gomes is a solid pick, but not a home run.
In other news, Spears reported that Michael Finley is not retiring. That struck me off-guard — didn’t Finley retire right before the playoffs?