Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey met with reporters following a pre-Draft workout on Monday to discuss the team's 2012 NBA Draft plans, its visit with British big man Joel Freeland over the weekend and other topics.
Blazers owner Paul Allen attended Monday's workout, even though UConn guard Jeremy Lamb was the only player projected to be selected in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Monday's workout and future workouts
Right now, this is the last workout. Jeremy [Lamb] was kind of dinged up, he had an ankle sprain he had in Toronto. We appreciate him coming in and going live right now. It's a little bit of a relief for him. He's tough, he competed.
He went through the full workout. For us, he's probably at about 75 to 80 percent of what he is normally. He competed, he did every drill, he went live the whole hour.
Ready for Thursday's Draft?
We're just going to second-guess ourselves about 50 times between now and Thursday night. Yell and scream in the Draft room and then be convinced at about 4:45 that we absolutely made the two right picks and everybody else can tell us we made the two wrong picks.
So you're keeping picks?
Right now, we are. Right now, we've got No. 6 and No. 11. That's where we stand. I think things will heat up over the next few days, in terms of call volume but right now we intend on using both selections.
Trade calls picking up?
It's still a little sporadic. I think it's an interesting offseason. A lot of people have money. A lot of teams have the flexibility if they don't solve their problem on Draft day by a trade or using the pick, teams have money to spend this offseason.
Weekend visit in Houston with Joel Freeland
For me it was information gathering. We had a really nice time with Joel. We got to see a couple of practices. We had a nice dinner with him. He played against Lithuania, which was great, because they've got [Jonas] Valanciunas and Linas Kleiza and some former NBA guys. He had a good game, he played really well. He sounds interested in coming over and we're interested in having him. It's just a matter of making sure we can work it out where his role on the team and where he fits in roster composition wise, and where his salary slot fits in, works for both of us.
You're keeping picks because you like the players or you don't like the trade offers?
It's probably a little bit of both. We like No. 6 and No. 11. If you have 6 and 11, you wish you had 5 and 10. If you had 5 and 10, you wish you had 4 and 9. That's the way it is. You're always going to find five guys you love when you're No. 6. Right now, I just think there's more value to the organization long-term with what we're going to acquire at No. 6 and No. 11 than what we would be able to get back if we conveyed those to somebody else.
Is Joel Freeland NBA-ready?
There's going to be a learning curve. There always is. He hasn't played in the NBA. It's no different than a rookie. Whether he was a four year guy at a high major or whether he's played four years at a high level for a Euroleague team, there's going to be a curve. How we use our bigs versus how he's used over there, defensive coverages, things like that, we're going to have to be patient and give him some time to learn. I think he'll acclimate pretty well. Physically he's an NBA player. He has good instincts. He's a worker. What I like about him, he's a big-time motor guy, he plays hard every possession, both ends of the court. Culturally he'd be great for us.
Are you going with a youth movement and rebuild by deciding to keep the picks?
I don't want to say that but if you're going to add young players you want to know that they're going to fit in, not just immediately but long-term. Joel is not a stop-gap. He's not a guy we're trying to plug a hole with. He's an acquisition that can develop alongside -- our two or three best players, Nic [Batum], Wesley [Matthews] and LaMarcus [Aldridge], they're all guys in their mid-20s. I want to add guys that of their generation so they can all grow together.
The Draft is a player acquisition vehicle. That's what it is. We will acquire the two best players for the franchise by using 6 and 11. I may walk back in there and have three voicemails that completely change my mind. But right now, what we're going to get 6 and 11 in this Draft will set up the best course of action for us going forward. That's not to say that two minutes after the Draft you don't do something. I think right now, relative to where we want to go, we have a better chance of getting there using 6 and 11 than just doing one offs to bring guys in and conveying the picks.
Does Joel Freeland influence your Draft strategy at all?
No. Joel is another really good player. What we've tried to do is position him, where he would be in this Draft. He's still a young guy and value him accordingly.
But we're going to take the two best players that we think can grow with the existing group of guys we have here. If you have redundancies at a position but they're strong -- I go back to seven months ago, that I had too many point guards [with the Los Angeles Clippers] but by the time the playoffs rolled around I only had two of them on the floor. As long as guys can play, it doesn't matter what position they are at.
Also, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports on Twitter that Olshey confirmed that the Blazers have signed cap specialist Joe Cronin to a multi-year contract.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter