The Blazers, 'damn franchise' for Spanish players

Gasol would have been the fifth Spaniard in the Blazers but he has not made his debut in the team in which neither Rudy nor Claver nor Sergio.

Pau Gasol has remained without debuting at Portland Trail Blazers. The pivot of Sant Boi has not recovered within the expected deadlines of the injury, a navicular fracture due to stress in the left foot, which forced him to go through the operating room in May and miss out on both the playoffs with Milwaukee Bucks and the World Cup with the Spanish team, which was proclaimed world champion in China. The left foot has been a crucis way for Pau since last season, when he left San Antonio after losing a lot of weight in Gregg Popovich's rotation and already with some problems that multiplied in Milwaukee, where he only played three games with the Bucks .

The estimated recovery time was moving in an arc between two and four months. With those deadlines in mind, Pau signed a minimum veteran contract with the Trail Blazers, which, of course, reserved an exit clause for a case like the one that has occurred in the recovery of the Spanish, more problematic than expected. On the Blazers' half day, both Pau and General Manager Neil Olshey left their presence on the air even in the first game of the Oregon team in the 2019-20 Regular Season. After one month of the season (and with the Blazers in the abyss, 5-10, and delivered to the Carmelo Anthony experiment), Pau Gasol has not been able to play a minute.

Pau Gasol is 39 years old. If at any time this season NBA can play, it would be the third most veteran of the great league, only behind the eternal Vince Carter (42 years and 299 days) and Udonis Haslem, who is also 39 and turns 40 less than a month before Pau. One on June 9, the other on July 6. Pau will remain, therefore, without wearing his sixth NBA shirt (after Grizzlies, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs and Bucks) in what would be his nineteenth season in the NBA (he was number 3 of the draft in 2001). One also, that of the Trail Blazers, which is next to that of the Raptors the most Spanish players have taken. Pau would have been the fifth after Fernando Martín, Rudy Fernández, Sergio Rodríguez and Víctor Claver.

Fernando Martín, the great pioneer

The Blazers, a classic that is more than a team in Portland (where he is the great representative of professional sport) and who won his only ring in 1977 with Bill Walton as a franchise player, have not been a very friendly destination For the spanish people. Fernando Martín, the great pioneer, arrived in 1986 and there was only one season (1986-87) in which he played just 146 minutes in 24 games with 22 points and 28 rebounds. The injuries (a fractured nose and an arthroscopy in the knee) helped to hinder a difficult integration in times when the ocean that separated European and American basketball was much wider. Coach Mike Schuler also did not give him a role in which he could feel comfortable and, finally, Fernando Martín returned to Real Madrid, where he played two more seasons before his tragic death in a traffic accident.

From Chacho to Rudy and Claver

In the summer of 2006 and with only 20 years, Sergio Rodríguez made the leap to the Blazers as world champion. He had been chosen with number 27 of the draft by Phoenix Suns, by then the ninth Spanish selected and the sixth to debut in the American league. He spent three seasons in Oregon before being transferred to Sacramento Kings in June 2009, played 219 games (14 starts) and averaged (12.4 minutes per night) 3.6 points and 2.9 assists. It was hard for him to make a dent in the scheme of Nate McMillan (with whom Rudy Fernández later also had his disagreements), a coach who preferred to give minutes in the direction to Jarrett Jack and Dan Dickau, first, and Steve Blake, later. Of course, he had time to sign a performance of 23 points and 10 assists. With the Blazers he had his only playoff experience before going through Kings and Knicks and, in 2010, returning to Europe to play for Real Madrid. Six years later, he made another attempt with the Sixers (2016-17), but then returned another to Europe. First to the CSKA of Moscow, with which he won his second Euroleague, and then at the Olimpia Milan, his current team.

The next in the Blazers was Rudy Fernandez, who spent three years (2008-11) in Oregon, where he arrived in the summer of 2008 after his excellent role with the Spanish National Team that put the US Redeem Team on the ropes in the end of the Beijing Games. Rudy, number 24 of the draft in 2007, was a pick that went from the Cavaliers to the Celtic and from there to the Suns, the team that chose him before sending him to Portland. There he played 218 of his 249 Regular Season games, with averages of 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He debuted with good foot, with 16 points and 4 assists in duel against Pau Gasol, and in 2009 he became the first European in a math contest, in addition to participating in the duel between rookies and sophomores, also in the All Star Weekend. In his first mate he honored Fernando Martín and in the second he was helped by Pau Gasol. In that first course he played 78 games (he only lost four) and scored at least a triple in 72. He added 159, then top of a rookie.

But then things began to twist because of the back problems that were a constant during the middle of his career. In December 2009 he went through the operating room and was four weeks off. Afterwards, it was hard for him to have continuity and the full confidence of his coach, again Nate McMillan. His third season was already marked by rumors about his future, his statements in which he already pointed to a return to Europe and even a fine to his agent in the US, Andy Miller, for pointing in that same direction publicly. After the World Cup in Turkey, before the 2010-11 season, Rudy declared that he wanted to "go home" and be close to his family again. He was linked to Barcelona, but finally he remained in Portland, in a final year in which he signed a game of 26 points and 6 rebounds, against the Timberwolves. In June 2011, he was transferred to Dallas Mavericks and in December, without debuting with the Texans, to the Nuggets, where he finished his NBA career. In the summer of 2012, he signed for Real Madrid.

Victor Claver was the fourth Spanish who made the jump to the NBA with the Blazers as the first stop. There he was between 2012 and 2015 (between 24 and 26 years old), he played 80 games, 13.4 minutes on average with 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds. He had been chosen with the number 22 in 2009. In his first season he alternated the first team with the Development League (Idaho Stampede) and in February 2015 he was transferred to the Nuggets, which was cut three days later. Claver also undertook the way back and after passing through Lokomotiv Kuban signed for Barcelona, where he meets his fourth season

The Blazers are, in any case and together with the Raptors (José Manuel Calderón, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Jorge Garbajosa), the franchise with more Spanish prominence thanks to those four representatives who have worn his shirt. A list that Pau Gasol has not been able to join but still in front of Grizzlies (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro) and Knicks (José Calderón, Sergio Rodríguez, Willy Hernangómez). There are still, after the debut of Ricky Rubio with Phoenix Suns, eight that no Spanish player has gone through: Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors (José Calderón was about to do so), Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers.

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