Some quick-hitting notes and quotes from Thursday's pre-draft workout group. I'll put together a Draft Prospect Board similar to previous years sometime this weekend.
In case you missed it earlier, Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan said the team is being "very aggressive" in its approach to trade talks, is listening to offers for point guard Andre Miller and that Miller is generating "a lot of interest." Full story here.
Former Portland Trail Blazers GM Rich Cho was hired by the Charlotte Bobcats to serve as their GM this week. Cho's two hand-picked assistant GMs -- Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry -- were in attendance at today's workout. Buchanan said both will continue to serve in their roles, at least for the time being.
"Status quo," Buchanan said. "Until we're told otherwise, we're moving forward and handling the draft. Same roles. Bill and Steve both still in the assistant GM positions. They haven't told us otherwise."
Cho To Charlotte
The Bobcats hold the No. 9 and the No. 19 selections in this year's draft. Portland is at No. 21. Buchanan repeated a claim today that he made during a radio appearance on Wednesday: He said he believes he knows which player Cho is targeting.
"I know who he is picking at No. 9, I can tell you that," Buchanan said. With a smile, he told me today that the player is "possibly" someone the Blazers are highly interested in as well.
Quips aside, Buchanan realizes that he's now a battle with his former boss. "I had a long conversation with Rich the other night. I'm very happy for him. But now we're competitors. He has an idea who we like in the draft to a certain degree and I know who he likes."
Buchanan said owner Paul Allen will have a "major impact" on this year's draft planning and execution.
"Paul loves the draft and we love that Paul loves the draft," Buchanan said. "He's involved, he likes to watch video with us on the guys, he likes to be part of the discussion comparing players. People talk about Paul being an owner but Paul has a good eye for talent. In previous drafts he's picked out guys that he's liked that have gone on to have success in the NBA. As far as Greg's decision, he's going to have a major impact on that as well."
Asked if he had succeeding in developing good chemistry with Allen -- because Cho was fired for not doing so -- Buchanan said he felt like he has. "It's a lot of interaction, a lot of chemistry ... I've had a good relationship with Paul in my seven years with the team and I don't expect that to change."
Interesting that Buchanan refers to Allen as "Paul" rather than "Mr. Allen."
He reiterated that stance on Thursday. "For what he's been through, I think all of us here would want to have some help and guidance," Buchanan said. "I can't speak for what all happened with any type of counseling but we support Greg helping him get back right mentally and physically. Whatever he's been through -- I'd prefer not to comment on interventions or anything like that.
"We have a sports psychologist on our team that works with all of our players. Every team around the league has that. For what Greg has been through, trying to get him back prepared mentally is just as big a hurdle as it is physically."
The player with the most local interest at today's workout was obviously Duke standout and South Medford High graduate Kyle Singler.
Singler has been ranked high on Portland's draft boards for years, dating back to the Kevin Pritchard era. Buchanan said his interest in Singler actually pre-dates Singler's four years at Duke.
"We liked him coming out of high school," Buchanan said. "I first saw him going into his freshman year of college. In the summer after his season year of high school. Played very well for an U-18 USA team. You just notice his passion for competing, you notice his toughness, his smarts. He's one of those guys watch play and think, 'Man, I would love to play with that guy.' Just because he plays winning basketball, he makes the right decision, he defends, he does all the little things for you. You can tell he would accept any role that you gave him and would do it at a fairly high level."
Buchanan layered the praise on Singler after Thursday's workout.
"Kyle never takes a single play, a single possession in a practice or game off," Buchanan said. "He's fully engaged every single minute he's out there on the court. You could see that today. He's in great shape, great physical condition, he's been well coached. High basketball IQ. Shot the ball well today. Just a rock solid, low-risk type player for an NBA team to pull the trigger on."
Yes, Jeremy Tyler committed the most ridiculous error you can imagine in a pre-draft workout, completely blanking on who Blazers coach Nate McMillan is. The must-see video is here.
Blunders aside, he displayed excellent post scoring technique, stepped out and nailed a few mid-range jumpers and, overall, is a very impressive physical specimen. If you didn't know about all his baggage you would take one look at him and think "top 15 pick." The mock drafts have been warming to him but he's still generally outside the top 20 or 25.
Buchanan was impressed. "His physical tools are very, very tempting. He's obviously been through a different path than the majority of kids. That's been good and bad. He's obviously had some adversity he's had to deal with. I think he's matured a little bit as a person. His game has definitely matured as well since I first saw him in high school. He's matured physically, his confidence level, his ability to play a little more physical. He's a guy who has a lot of long-term upside."
Tyler stuck to his company line about not regretting his decision to leave high school early to play professionally in Israel and Japan.
"I never really look back at it," he said. "It's a decision that I think was probably the best I could have ever made. I wouldn't be half the player I am now. Basketball I know will take care of itself, but I'm talking about being mentally mature, being a young man on and off the court. Learn how to be a professional. That was one of the biggest preparations I wanted to have before I came to this league. That's what I've been working on daily through Israel and Japan."
Sean Meagher of OregonLive.com has a video report on Tyler.
Buchanan said that teams continue to call with interest in Nicolas Batum but he backed the French forward pretty thoroughly. "His name is brought up on occasion from a few teams. We love Nic. Nic has shown steady improvement for us. He's what we're about as a player and as a person. We're excited about his future."
Friday's Workout Group
Here's the list of players who will be working out in Portland on Friday.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter