Blazers Weigh Gag Order On Assistant Coaches, Basketball Operations Executives

The Portland Trail Blazers are considering instituting a gag order on their assistant coaches and basketball operations executives besides GM Neil Olshey.

A black screen has recently been applied to the Portland Trail Blazers' weight room window to prevent eavesdropping. There just might be a symbolism developing here.

One day after the Blazers announced a new, more restrictive media policy governing contact with players after practice, a team official indicated to Blazersedge that interview requests for assistant coaches and basketball operations staff members may not be fulfilled.

On Tuesday, as training camp opened, Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard made a point of singling out new Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool for being instrumental in aiding his transition from the college level to the professional level.

"I've been working with coach David a lot," Lillard said. "Even when I first got here we got up every morning to work out before the team workouts and all the lifting. I think we're building a relationship. I ride with him to the track to do conditioning. We talk there and back... Me and David, we really hit it off when I first got here... We've been working on a lot of pick-and-rolls, in-between stuff, floaters, pull-up jumpers, keeping it simple."

Lillard told Blazersedge that he was drawn to Vanterpool, 39, as a mentor because of his hands-on approach and his willingness to go through the work with Lillard side-by-side. Vanterpool enjoyed a long playing career overseas after spending four years at St. Bonaventure in the 1990s.

"They say players like coaches who sweat with them," Lillard said. "Every morning, he's out there sweating with me. Working hard with me. He's kind of a younger guy, he knows how we are. He knows how it is, what we like to do, what we're interested in. To have someone like that who is around, a coach, who isn't afraid to get on you, to tell you what you need to hear, instead of what you want to hear, it's always a good thing."

On Wednesday morning, the Blazers denied a request by Blazersedge to speak with Vanterpool after practice. Initially, it appeared that all assistant coaches and basketball operations executives -- aside from Blazers GM Neil Olshey -- could be prevented from providing interviews to media members. Following Wednesday's practice, a team official indicated that no firm policy had been established and that details would be made available down the road.

The entire Blazers coaching staff, and the staff of the Idaho Stampede, was made available for interviews during Monday's Media Day and there was no indication at that time that their future availability would be limited. Olshey's key basketball operations staff members -- including his assistant GMs and directors of scouting -- were not on hand at Media Day. Multiple basketball operations staff members were available following the team's 2012 Las Vegas Summer League.

Per the team's new post-practice guidelines, assistant coaches and basketball operations staffers are now physically off-limits for conversations to media members following practices.

In previous years, assistant coaches were readily available, especially to discuss players with whom they worked. They were also made available for longer-form interviews, such as this extended interview with Monty Williams in 2008. Same thing for basketball operations staffers.

Blazersedge will provide updates on this policy as they become available. Here's hoping.

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