Transcript: Blazers GM Rich Cho Year-End Thoughts On This Year's Team

Following Game 6, Portland Trail Blazers GM Rich Cho laid out some of his thoughts regarding the end of the season and his early wishlist for the offseason.

During a lengthy media availability on Monday, Cho fielded questions and expanded a bit on those comments.

I'll post his answers in a few separate posts to make them easier to digest.

Posted earlier: Cho's thoughts on center Greg Oden.

Click through for a transcript of his thoughts on the state of the team, himself, Nate McMillan and individual players not named Oden. 

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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Note: Questions are in bold and are paraphrased. Answers are in blockquote and are word-for-word. Questions have been re-organized and grouped by player.

Thoughts on season wrapping up?

I was disappointed to lose. I want to win as much or more than anybody else. After I had some time to reflect, I thought it was a really good season. If you had looked at it and someone said to you at the start of September -- 'Hey what would constitute a successful season?' If we had three guys out for the season, one would be Greg [Oden], one would be Jeff Pendergraph, another would be Elliot [Williams]. And we knew Brandon [Roy] was going to miss 35 games, if we knew Joel [Przybilla] was going to miss 26 games and then Marcus [Camby] would miss 23 games. What would constitute a successful season? I think if we said making the playoffs and going six games against a very good Dallas team who won 57 games. I think you could say that's a successful season. 

How would you evaluate your own performance in your first year on the job?

I guess that's for you guys to do. And Mr. Allen to evaluate. I will say that I love being here. I love this city. I love the fans. I think the fans are the best fans in the NBA. We've had 159 straight sellouts, that's hard to find these days.

 How would you assess Nate McMillan's job this season?

I thought Nate and the whole staff did a great job through all of the adversity. The ups and downs. When we had the six game losing streak after the East Coast swing and were 8-11, it would have been easy for the guys to look a different direction and be deflated. But he picked the guys up, we won four in a row, we won seven out of 10 and we started getting back into the playoff hunt. One thing is, the guys played hard all season. That's a testament to Nate and the coaching staff.

What does the team need to get over the hump?

I think health is definitely a big factor. If you look at any of the teams and you take one of the best players off their team, then they're not going to play as well. In general, I think we need some size, we need some speed in the backcourt, we need some more depth and we need some shooting.

How do you evaluate the roster? Does it need to be balanced out?

It probably does need to be balanced out. We're pretty loaded at the wing spot. But if we get some guys back healthy then it won't be balanced and then we do have to find some more speed in the backcourt.

Why hasn't the team addressed its shooting for years?

I wasn't hear back then but I would say great shooters are hard to find. A lot of times you'll look around at great shooters, they're not good defenders. 

Finding a good shooter involves giving up things in other areas. Are you not willing to do that?

The great ones are hard to find. I hope to improve the shooting. But we definitely have capable shooters on this team but they did have off years. But I know the guys will work hard and hopefully they'll shoot better next year.

Good defenders on the roster, were you disappointed that you didn't play better team defense?

Any time you lose in the playoffs, it's a disappointment but our defense probably could have been better. There were some times this year we played great defense. 

 

Is anyone untouchable?

I would never say someone is untouchable but we do have some pieces. You know who they are that are very, very, very, very close to untouchable.

Did you meet with all the players after the season?

Yes.

Did everyone show up?

Oh yeah. They showed up. There's a big fine for not showing up. They showed up. They went well. I think after the guys had some time to reflect they all thought we had a good season. I talked to each of the guys about their deficiencies, things about the team as a whole, what I thought they needed to work on during the offseason. 

Individual message to each player or a group message?

Kinda different for each guy but there is a central message too which is let's work hard to get better next year and do whatever we can to win a championship.

Pick up Andre Miller's team option?

Since the season just ended four days ago. We're going to start having meetings. The offseason is kind of for evaluation and we'll go from there.

So it's still up in the air right now?

We have until June 29th and it's something that we're going to evaluate and look at a lot of different options. I really thought Andre did a good job all year. He's one of those guys that, if you're on the outside looking in, you might not appreciate him and his play as much. But I think he's a great pro, a warrior and once I saw him day in and day out you really get an appreciation for his game.

State of the point guard spot besides Andre Miller?

I really thought Patty [Mills] did a good job filling in. We didn't even know if Patty was going to be on the team last fall but he did a really good job. Armon came in and he did a really good job in the D-League. We want to get better at every spot. 

Comfortable going into the season with those guys minus Andre?

I don't know. It's going to be time for evaluation in the offseason.

Are age or locker room concerns a consideration with Andre Miller?

I think any time somebody gets into their mid-30s you have to consider age. But as far as locker room, no, I felt we had great team chemistry and great camaraderie throughout the year. I think if you ask the players that they'll say the same thing.

Brandon Roy's role going forward?

Brandon had an up and down year, missed 35 games, coming off of the two surgeries. I thought he did a really good job at the end of the year, especially in Game 4, and we'll just have to see how it goes.

Brandon wants to start. Does that make your job tougher?

Well, it's definitely hard. It's probably even harder on the coaches. I hope Brandon comes back and he's playing at a level where he can play 35 minutes and be a starter. But we've got a deep team and I know Wesley wants to start too. Nic wants to start. Everybody wants to play a lot of minutes so the cream always rises to the top. We'll see what happens.

Offseason approach for Brandon Roy?

I think part of it is he's going to need some rest. I'm going to leave that up to the trainer and the medical staff.

What happened to Gerald Wallace in the playoffs?

I thought he played great in Game 6. He didn't play as well in some of the other games. Dallas is a hard team to play. They won 57 games. Dirk [Nowitzki] was out for quite awhile, I think they were 2-7 in games that he was out. They could easily have had one of the two best records in the league. They're a veteran-laden team with Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion. That's a tough team to play. In general, I thought Gerald did a great job for us.

How does Rudy Fernandez fit in going forward?

I think Rudy started out rough at the start of the season when it didn't look like he was going to come over. He came in, he was a real pro when he came in, he had a really nice stretch of games where he was playing really well. And then his shooting dropped off. For Rudy it's all about confidence. I was happy with Rudy's improvement on the defensive end especially and I thought he took a lot of pride in his defense. In general, he did a pretty good job.

Did Rudy Fernandez express a desire to come back in his exit interview?

Yes.

Will this year's rookies make a bigger impact next season?

Luke [Babbitt] and Armon [Johnson] and Elliot [Williams] need an opportunity. Luke and Armon I thought did a great job in the D-League. Elliot I still think is going to be a good player in this league. He obviously had the two surgeries so he was out all year. His athleticism is off the charts. I'm really looking forward and excited to have Elliot back.

Will Jeff Pendergraph get a shot?

That's something we'll evaluate. Part of it depends on Jeff's health. I felt we really missed Jeff during the year. He was not only another big that we could have had but kind of a spiritual leader of the team. We missed him.

Luke Babbitt -- Do you think he'll be a contributor?

Yes I do. Luke did a great job in the D-League. He's a guy that can score a lot of different ways. His work ethic is off the charts. I think Luke's future is bright in this league.

Confidence is an issue for Babbitt?

Well, I think maybe confidence. I think he just needs an opportunity and some playing time.

Chris Johnson

Chris is under contract for next year. We're excited to have him back. Chris's personality and his demeanor and his talent and his approach fits the DNA of the guys that I'm trying to bring in here. We're excited to have him back. 

Is Chris Johnson's contract guaranteed?

It's not guaranteed. I don't like to talk about the player contracts. But he is under contract for next year.

DNA of guys you are targeting?

Guys that work hard. Great work ethic. Guys that like to play both ends of the floor. Guys that are competitive. Guys that have a consistency to their game. That's one of the reasons we targeted [Chris Johnson] and we're really excited to have him.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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