When Nate McMillan arrived at his office Friday morning, two DVDs and a stack of paperwork were waiting for him at his desk. It was the day after the NBA trade deadline, during which the Trail Blazers jettisoned three players and two future draft picks in exchange for former All-Star forward Gerald Wallace, and McMillan was about to begin the multilayered process of integrating a new player into a team that had suddenly become the hottest in the NBA. The first step of this process was familiarizing himself with his new player. So McMillan popped in the DVD -- one disk featured offensive clips of Wallace, the other was loaded with defensive footage -- and he started scanning four pages of "intel" the Blazers had gathered over the years about their newest acquisition. "I just wanted to get to know him a little bit," McMillan said. "Eventually, it's going to be about our relationship and our chemistry. And it'll be about his chemistry with the team and who he is out on the floor with. But I wanted to look at some different things, do my homework." McMillan made some initial decisions after this homework session, but the process had only just begun. He had a one-on-one conversation with Wallace later that day, with McMillan sharing how he hoped to take advantage of Wallace's talents and with Wallace sharing what McMillan could do to ease his transition and allow him to help the team. Wallace had a ho-hum debut performance with the team Sunday night as he finished with nine points and five rebounds in 29 minutes during the Blazers' 90-83 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Wallace called his play "shaky" and admitted that he was "nervous" and "jittery" during his first home game at the Rose Garden. While Wallace was disappointed with his performance, it was merely another step in the process of becoming a Blazer. "It's real tough," Wallace said of working into the fabric of the team. "Guys are in rhythm and you build that chemistry with guys and all of a sudden you throw me into the mix. That's the one thing I hate to do; come in and kind of break up guys' chemistry. My main thing is I just wanted to fit in, didn't want to step on anyone's toes, try to do what I can do and help the team win." The Blazers returned to practice -- Wallace's second with the team -- Monday and spent much of the time incorporating Wallace into offensive sets. After practice, Wallace sat on the floor along a wall with assistant coach Kaleb Canales and the two went over Xs and Os in further detail on a marker board. Eventually, Wallace retreated to the video room to watch film.
Gerald Wallace and Nate McMillan study to speed up transition
Oregonian | Mar 1