Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen took questions at his team's practice facility Tuesday during the opening day of 2013 training camp.
Opening thoughts on camp
"Great energy. I loved to see the emphasis on defense, that's kind of been my mantra the last few years. I think there's going to be a lot of emphasis on that this season."
Playoffs or bust?
"Oh no, I wouldn't put it that way but I talked to [GM] Neil [Olshey] right after the last game of the season and made a conscious decision and had a lot of determination to try to improve the team. We've brought a blend of veterans and draft picks, we've definitely got so much more depth this year, so much more talent 1-12, to complement our starters from last year. We're in a much improved place."
How has Neil Olshey done?
"I think Neil and the scouts have done a great job improving the talent, now it's the coach's turn to take that talent and see how far we can go. See how these guys blend in the preseason, how the young guys develop, how the veterans blend in, there's going to be a lot of great stories this year."
Rose Garden naming rights
"That's something we talked about from time to time over the years. Since I came up with the Rose Garden name it was a tiny bit painful, but these are the things you have to do to put your team on firm financial footing. The increased revenue we got there is equivalent to a significant player in terms of revenue, so that's kind of how I think about it. It's all about getting us to even firmer financial footing."
Most looking forward to this season
"Seeing all the new players blend in. Seeing the defense improve. I think that's going to translate into many more wins than we had last year. I'm not going to try to predict how many."
How has organization's management/coaching transition has gone?
"Basically I think there were somewhat discouraging -- if you were the owner -- somewhat discouraging times there. You have to bear down and say, 'OK, we're going to have to make some changes. We're going to have to bring in a new GM, making a coaching change, and so forth, executive changes.' That's all come together. You need to see the full fruits of doing that. We've had some successes in Seattle in making wholesale changes. Now we need to see how that's going to evolve in Portland but I'm very optimistic."
Have benchmarks for successful season?
"I don't. There's so many things that can intervene and change things, whether that's injuries, as we've seen. We've just been plagued by injury problems, I hate to even bring it up. Things like that. You don't know how other teams are going to perform in your conference too. I think we're going to be in the mix for a playoff spot but other than that, I can't predict."
You've mentioned no luxury tax spending unless team is in championship window. Anything that could happen over the course of this season to alter that heading into next summer?
"We've basically made the moves for this season, free agents are all signed, or they're playing overseas, or they're with new teams, so this is our team. Not to say that something couldn't happen during the season, but I'm really not expecting it at this point but things could always change and evolve. I don't think considerations about the luxury tax are something that I'm thinking about."
More stability than in recent years
"Yes, we've turned the page and we're in a new era here and we've got some of our veterans like [Nicolas Batum] and [LaMarcus Aldridge] and [Wesley Matthews] that joined us before. And obviously Damian [Lillard], I think we all believe he's going to continue to grow, and we've got new players like Dorell [Wright], Robin [Lopez] and Mo [Williams] that have just tons of experience. You blend that experience with the talent you have and draft picks like CJ McCollum, it's going to be super interesting to see how the season evolves and I hope the fans are as excited as I am.
Excited about Seattle Seahawks?
4-0, it's the first time that's ever happened. It's amazing. We have such a resilient team, it's special to be around them. I'm just so happy for the fans, the players and the coaches in Seattle.
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