Bobcats Top to Bottom: Joel Przybilla


Did I spell that right?  P-R-Y…no, P-R-Z-Y-B-I-L-L-A.  Had to look it up.

This is our first in the series of “Bobcats Top to Bottom,” where we look at individuals throughout the organization.  I look to for most of my stats and assorted info, and they list each player that saw time on the court this season for the Bobcats, so I’ve chosen to do the same.  No player too small, no trades will keep us from looking at each and their contribution to the organization in 2010-2011. You could file Joel under “lack there of” if we’re talking about contributing on the court.  He was hurt much of the year, playing in a total of 36 games.  It sucks when a big guy like Przybilla starts to break down towards the end of his career and it’s even worse when he gets lumped into a trade and shipped across the country.

He was the most easy to deal piece when Portland wanted to make the deal for Gerald Wallace at the deadline.  He threatened/considered retiring at the moment he was traded but the Bobcats brought him in, checked out the knee and the ankle and the back and Michael Jordan and Paul Silas had a talk with him.  The story is that they told him if he could go, if he could play and wasn’t in too much pain, they could use him, and when Michael Jordan says “I’d like you to play for me” you jump at the chance.  That’s what Steve Martin talked about when he came over anyway.

Przybilla is one of those guys that comes out early, he’s got size and ability, gets drafted high and then takes a while to pan out.  Sort of like Kwame Brown or any of the other young centers we’ve seen over the last 10 years in the league.  The Bucks actually gave up their first rounder that year and a future first rounder, so he was sought after.  Then he got traded, his rookie deal was up and there were 3 teams after him but only Portland was offering guaranteed money.  Could you believe that?  7’1″ and he could move, even jump, and he was offered what is a little more than league minimum.  Anyway, he found a home in Portland, flourished a bit, and signed another deal which brought him his fortune, that big money deal that’s supposed to last until you actually retire from working.  If you look at a news feed on the guy, it’s all about Portland.  Fan favorite, beloved member of the community, physical presence on the court.  He was Portland’s version of Gerald Wallace. He came to them back in 2004, when they kind of sucked and their best players were Nick Van Exel and Derek Anderson.  Everyone left in the 6 and a half years Joel was there, except Joel.

So he went from that Jail-Blazers to the new, young, super Blazers, set down roots, getting married and having kids and then they shipped him to Charlotte for the last few months of his contract.  Nice. I hoped for more out of Przybilla, as back-up to Kwame Brown.  I didn’t know enough about him, and his knee troubles.  He ruptured the patella one night in a game, had it repaired, then slipped in the shower and screwed up all the recovery and healing that went on, went back under the knife and came back in December of 2010.  He was still playing with wires and whatnot holding everything together when he was shut down for the year with a month left.  He went back into surgery to have the wires removed and now he’s rehabbing.  Poor guy. I don’t think it’s in the cards for the Bobcats to bring him back.

He scored 9 points in his 5 games and pulled in 24 rebounds in those 5 games as a Bobcat.  A 31 year old, injury prone center is not what this rebuilding franchise could use right now.  As I’ve learned about him, I hope he does well somewhere, I hope he plays again.  He seems like a nice enough guy, but bottom line:  He could have been bought out and never put on a Bobcats uniform just as easily as he pulled in those 24 rebounds.

Nic’s Take:

It’s hard to offer brilliant basketball analysis on a guy who played exactly 74 minutes of an entire season.  I’m pretty sure Gerald Wallace played more than 74 minutes in a single game once.  I don’t know why anyone would have expected much out of Przybilla when the Gerald Wallace trade was announced.  Anytime a guy isn’t even mentioned in a trade announcement until the third paragraph… you can’t really get your hopes up.  He came over as a throw in basically to make the deal work, and to offer the Bobcats some future savings.  And if that’s what you expected out of the Vanilla Gorilla… boy did he deliver.  This isn’t a harsh indictment on the guy, I liked him personally and whenever he suited up and got the chance to play he was semi-useful.

Injuries and age have caught up to him and honestly the only place that he would have been good for was Portland, as the adorable big man the community loves to cheer on.  In no way shape or form will Joel be back with the Bobcats in the 2011-2012 season.  He has served his purpose in the trade, and for his lack of a salary this upcoming year… I thank him.

Assessment of Joel Przybilla from Special Guest Sean Highkin of Rip City Project (be sure to check them out):

It’s hard to be objective about Joel as a Blazers fan. If you think someone on your roster is a fan favorite, they’ve got nothing on the love affair the city of Portland had (and still has) with the Vanilla Gorilla. He was the only holdover from the Jail Blazer years, yet was somehow completely untainted by the era. There’s a reason Blazers fans love Joel so much: his stats were never terrific, and his contract was probably too big, but there’s no harder-working guy out there, and when he was healthy, he could always be counted on to clog the lane, rebound, and block shots. You could do a lot worse than Joel when you need someone to fill in after yet another Greg Oden season-ending injury.

The fact that he even came back at all this year speaks volumes about his toughness and work ethic. After his season-ending ruptured patellar tendon in the 2009-10 season sentenced Blazers fans to two months or so of starting lineups involving Juwan Howard (until the Marcus Camby trade), he fell down in the shower and re-injured the same knee before he had finished the rehab process on his first surgery. At that point, I thought he was done. I thought the final $7.4 million remaining on the final season of his contract would become the successor to Raef LaFrentz, who by the 2009 trade deadline was more expiring contract than person. Even when he came back last December, he wasn’t nearly as effective as he had been before, but Blazers fans still applauded the effort (not to mention the reduced minutes for Sean Marks).

The Gerald Wallace trade was a no-brainer (an expiring contract, a career backup, and picks for a 28-year-old first-team All-Defenisve selection is a trade you make every time), but it still hurt to see him go. Fans of any team, especially a fanbase as fanatical as Rip City, tend to develop irrational attachments to their own guys and inflate their value, but anyone who watched the first game between the Blazers and Bobcats after the trade went down knows how much Joel meant to Portland.

If you had asked me before continued knee troubles sidelined Joel once again (he only played in five games after being traded to the Bobcats), I would have given you pretty good odds that the Blazers would re-sign him this summer for the minimum salary. He expressed interest in finishing his career in Portland after the trade, and even in his less-than-100-percent stage he’d still be more effective than any Sean Marks or Jarron Collins you could find on the waivers. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired either. He’ll likely never have his number hanging in the rafters of the Rose Garden, but his place in the hearts of Blazers fans will never be in doubt.

So the overall feeling you get on Joel Przybilla is, nice guy, often injured, end of his career, little impact.

Offer Sheet:
No Offer Extended, for the Bobcats.  Anyone else, Blazers especially, probably $1.5 million next year and then a team option for the next would be the maximum max I could see him getting.

Thanks Joel, best of luck in the future.