Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune has a lengthy interview with Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey, who offers some end-of-year thoughts and assesses the future of forward/center J.J. Hickson.
Tribune: Would you judge this season a success?
Olshey: It went well. We had a good season. We stayed in the playoff race longer than anybody thought. Our young guys have all gotten better. We've won close games, which is a testament to how (coach) Terry Stotts has managed the games. The assistant coaches have done a great job with the development of rookies like Victor Claver and Meyers Leonard. We fell short of our hopes to get into the playoffs. But based on preseason prognostications, for how long we remained competitive with how young we were and how limited our bench was, we had a positive year.
Tribune: What at the chances of re-signing Hickson, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1?
Olshey: We have J.J.'S Bird Rights. He has a very high cap hold ($7.98 million). It's not just a question of whether you bring him back. It's within the context of ... what positions would you not be able to bring in if you sign him?
We are the worst team in the NBA in points in the paint and protecting the rim. We've been disguising J.J., who has been a warrior and played hard all year, but there's a certain reality to playing a 6-8 power forward as your 5-man. That's not an indictment of J.J. He has played out of position and done all we've asked him to do. But we've become a 3 (small forward) and rim type of league. We have the 3-man down. Now defensively, we have to protect the rim better.
Olshey made somewhat similar comments about Hickson's role back in January.
The first step is, you've got to know what your starting lineup is. We went into the summer with two major question marks. One at point guard, one at center. I think we've answered the point guard situation.
We really like J.J. Hickson and he's clearly a quality NBA big. The question is can you can survive with a 6-foot-9 center, even if your power forward and franchise player is 6-foot-11? We're still evaluating that part of the process. What you don't want to do is take away your flexibility by building a bench when, at the end of the day, your starting lineup isn't good enough. Like I said, that will be an issue we'll address in the offseason.
Thanks to squeeky for beating me to it in the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter