Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey gave a video interview to Mike Barrett that was posted on Blazers.com. The conversation touches on his thoughts about the first half of the season, some of the 2012 offseason's moves and his thoughts on next steps for the organization.
Here's a transcript.
First half of season compared to expectations
It's been great on and off the floor. My family is having a really good time here in Portland. They're adjusting to the weather more than anything else. The community is great. The fan support is even more rabid than I expected. The bar is pretty high here. We go into the office every day knowing we have to build a championship contender for the fans in Portland.
Matching on Nicolas Batum and drafting Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Will Barton paying dividends
I think there's been an immediate response in terms of Nicolas's production. A lot of that is owed to [coach] Terry [Stotts] and the coaching staff. They've done an incredible job of putting Nicolas in situations where he can show his versatility, not only as a scorer but as a play-maker. Defensively, he's guarding four positions.
Damian from a production standpoint is probably ahead of where we expected him. We knew he was talented, we knew he was the right pick, the only question with Dame was how fast would he assimilate to the NBA game in terms of impacting wins and losses, and we've seen that as well.
Nic has flourished with big contract
A lot of the credit goes to [owner] Paul [Allen]. He never wavered. It was never a discussion where he erred on the side of, 'Let's not match.' He knew how talented the kid was, he believed in him. He didn't want to take a step backwards, he wanted to build from where we were as an organization.
I'm really happy for Nic because he's someone who became something of a pinata around the league. He has a really high ceiling and there were times where people felt like he wasn't living up to it. Clearly that's not the case any more. I've talked about this before, sometimes you love more from afar. He was a player we coveted when I was with the Los Angeles Clippers, we pursued him pretty heavily at different times when other front office regimes were here and we could never pry him away. I'm just glad he's the player we all anticipated him to be.
LaMarcus Aldridge taken for granted
We're spoiled to have L.A. It's a great luxury to walk into a game as a coach and know you can pencil in 20 and 10 from your franchise player, that's what he gives us every night. Because there aren't a lot of peaks and valleys with L.A., there's such consistency, people become complacent and take it for granted. We're very lucky to have a 27-year-old two-time All-Star and how easy he makes things for the team around him.
Maintaining current chemistry when planning future moves
We have three criteria when we look at player acquisitions: talent, chemistry and character. We like to find guys that hit all three of those criteria. That's the thing we've been able to do, we've brought guys in who complement guys on the court, absolutely, we thought they would be good fits. But in terms of what they bring in the locker room, at practice every day, we can always tell, they're hanging out in the gym, chatting in the circles, they hang out together on the road, they enjoy each other's company.
You see that on the court, you see the extra pass, a guy willing to set a screen for a teammate, help on defense. That's one of the things we have to look at going forward, making sure anybody we bring into the organization buys into the culture we're trying to create, is open to the process we're pursuing right now and will be a good mix with our current players.
Similarities to taking over Clippers and what's going to happen in the offseason
I think there are some similarities. Both have passionate fan bases. Clippers fans are really Clippers fans, they're not just people in L.A. who go to a basketball game. They wanted a winner, they wanted to be successful. I think the same thing, we had cap room, we had some good draft picks, we turned those guys into some good young players. The other thing was that we were patient, that's something that I've asked everybody here to be, to a certain degree. If it's not the right move long-term let's wait until we can generate that move.
We had to live through some bumps and bruises. My first year at the helm in Los Angeles with Vinny [Del Negro] and myself, we were 1-13, 5-22 and we finished up the last 2/3s of the season at .500 and we had a little momentum heading into the work stoppage. We came out of the work stoppage utilizing the cap room and using some of those younger players to build deals.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter