Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey joined Joe Becker of KGW on Sports Sunday for a brief interview. KGW's website is here.
Here's a transcript.
How excited are you?
I'm ecstatic. It's great. It was a little tough for awhile. The gym was empty after free agency and summer league. We had a great day today. We had about eight or 10 guys in here today. They got to play some full court. We've got a great coaching staff. The guys have been on the court active every day working guys out. All the young guys are excited. LaMarcus [Aldridge] did a great job, he's a real leader. He's the one who orchestrated these voluntary offseason workouts so I'm excited about him kind of taking over the locker room and being a solid voice of leadership for the young guys.
I think he's going to [have success as a rookie]. That's one of the reasons we drafted him that high. Obviously this organization has been looking for a franchise point guard for a long time. The great thing about drafting Damian was, we not only felt he was the best point guard in the draft, we felt he was the best player on the board when we selected. So it made it very easy for us.
Expectations for Victor Claver and Joel Freeland
The way I think Terry [Stotts] wants to play, the kind of culture we're trying to build here. Team basketball, trust the pass, share the basketball, trust your teammates, ball movement, player movement, playing that type of style, open and flow. The natural feel that international players have, that their first instinct is to pass is really going to lend itself well to gelling with Wes [Matthews] and LaMarcus and Nic [Batum]. When I met with Nic after we matched the offer sheet, that was one of the things he was excited about, a little more international flavor of the team. Not culturally or in terms of his peer group, but his style of play.
Expectations for Nicolas Batum
I thought he played well [in the 2012 London Olympics for France]. He struggled against Team USA a little bit early but you've got to remember he didn't go against contact until four days before the Olympics because of his contractual situation. He was basically dummy offense and drill work. It took him a little while to get a rhythm. I thought he played well, he made shots, he rebounded, he was very good defensively. I think he's going to make a big jump. I think Terry is going to be good for him. He's 23 years old. Nic's a kid. He, Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, a lot of the guys, that signed big contracts this summer, the level of expectations is going to increase. I think Nic's going to embrace it. It was one of the reasons we were so anxious to embrace the offer sheet. When we met with Nic prior to him signing it, that was something he really wanted. He wanted to embrace being one of the leaders on the team. Having more responsibility on both ends of the ball.
Hard to be a GM with so many second-guessing observers?
When you have an owner like Paul [Allen], it's not that hard. We'll see on October 31, I'm sure it's going to get a lot harder. We have unlimited resources here. We have a great practice facility that we're going to work on expanding and bringing in new resources there. We had the ability to go after any player that we wanted to. There's a great tradition here. So far, it's been incredible. My family is really happy here. I was lucky to inherit a really strong staff. The ability that Paul had to trust us when we wanted to hire Terry Stotts, that he was the right guy for the job. We were able to go fill out the staff we felt were good complements to our roster composition at this point.
Season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers
I can't escape them apparently. Mitch Kupchak is probably the best General Manager in the NBA and he did a phenomenal job this offseason. I couldn't pick a better opponent for opening night to get people fired up. And when guys come into camp on October 4th, to start pointing to that game as the first experience for Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and Will Barton and these guys. For a guy like LaMarcus who we think is going to be an All-Star this year, it's a great chance to play against some of the supreme talent in the league.
Brandon Roy's return with the Minnesota Timberwolves
I think everybody here wishes Brandon well. They want Brandon to do well. He's clearly a part of Trail Blazers history. He helped rebuild an organization that was in a difficult position at the time. He and LaMarcus kind of put the organization on their back. Things happened here health-wise that were out of everybody's control but at the end of the day I'm sure Brandon will get a great welcome and we're going to go out and do our best to beat them. They're a division rival and we think we have a pretty good small forward and two guard here too.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter