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Kevin Pritchard Conference Call Transcript

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There will be a press conference today announcing the signing of Andre Miller.  Look for coverage of the presser later this evening. In the meantime, here is a full transcript from Kevin Pritchard's conference call last Friday to hold you over.

Pritchard addresses the Miller signing, Andre's skills, the signing's effect upon Bayless, how much better the team is, whether he has any additional moves planned, and more.

Click through for the transcript.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

PS Here's a transcript of Miller's conference call.

Initial thoughts

We're excited to announce the signing of Andre Miller to our team. It's been exciting, it's been drama-filled. Nate and I had the opportunity to sit down with Andre here in Vegas. Had a long dinner. Was absolutely convinced he was part of the Blazers fabric going forward. We talked about a lot of different things, style of play, how he wanted to play, how he fit in. After that dinner, we engaged with Andy Miller in negotiations and finalized a deal.

What specifically do you like about his game?

He's an ironman. He doesn't miss games. He's durable. He makes everybody around him better. A lot of people will say he doesn't shoot it. That he will need to be able to shoot it playing next to Brandon and LaMarcus. We talked about that a lot with him but what we've noticed on film and being around him, he's selective. It reminds me a little bit of Avery Johnson. Avery wasn't a great shooter but he always found his spot. He hits timely shots. If you go back and scout it out, he hits big shots and that's something we felt like we needed. He runs a team. And when we had dinner with him, the one thing that was obvious, he knew everything about our team. He has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He said he feels like he can get our guys 4 to 6 extra points a game by just knowing what's going on out there. He got into very specific things -- I can't say I've ever had a dinner where a guy knew our offense as well as anybody. It was really interesting. We feel like he is obviously part of culture because he's a great kid. He wants to be part of a winning organization, he wants to go deep in the playoffs and it feels like he can help us in that regard.

Do you have any concerns about his age?

We looked at that. But the kid has played in 530 straight games. You look at some of these players who are playing at a higher level, later, because they are taking care of themselves but also because they know how to manage the game, they know how to manage the regular season to get ready for the playoffs. Was it a concern? Yes, but not too much. We got comfortable with it and we got comfortable with the deal too.

How important was it to get a player that has veteran leadership?

One of the things we looked at was obviously a lot of trades. With every trade you have to send out a player and you get a player. But we wanted to keep this team, this 54 win team, together. And just add to it. Add some experience. Andre's been in big games, he's been in the playoffs, he wants to have success in the playoffs and he feels like he can make everyone around him better. That's important because we have pretty good players in place but he feels like he can help them. That was his whole message to us, "I feel like I can help everyone else."

Will you make any more moves?

I don't see many more moves. I think there will be smaller free agent signings. We'll look out there at the best players we can possibly get. We are deep at every position. Our 12 guys under contract right now -- we really like it. Last year we had good depth and that helped us win a lot of games. And we feel like going forward our depth is going to be really important. We're going to have competition at every position and that has served us well.

Why sign Miller now rather than wait for a trade?

Part of this is feel. We had dinner with him. We had done our homework. We met a couple times, staff, coaching, management.  We went through all our options. Once Nate and myself went to dinner, it was all about feel. It was amazing he knew our team. I can't tell you how impressed we were how to play our team, he knew how to get us extra possessions. He knew his throw ahead pass would be even more effective with LaMarcus and Greg and Batum.  And we were impressed with his leadership ability to be honest with you. That you can only get meeting face to face.

What was your free agent process? Was Andre Miller your Plan C?

We regrouped after those two things [the Hedo and Millsap offers] and we wanted to attack it as if it was a clean slate. And we did that. We looked at our team. We said, "who fits us best?" We knew from basketball wise but we wanted to get to know these guys. It's important to be able to sit down with a guy and get comfortable with him. Andre was terrific. He knew our team. He knew how he could help our team and he seemed like a coach. It was amazing in the dinner because Nate and him hit it off in the first five minutes, talking about plays, how to play certain things, I got out of the conversation and let them talk basketball. It was an amazing thing to watch.

Any concerns about Andre's defensive abilities?

Not really. We studied that. Obviously there's ways to break that down. He's more of a team defender now than he's ever been before. One of the things we've felt really good about is that he's able to send guys to their weaknesses -- team defend -- quite frankly, we have a couple of good defenders in Joel Przybilla, Greg Oden, LaMarcus. We've got some big guys that defend the paint pretty well and do a good job on the boards. Obviously we want the best defender we can get but we think he's going to be fine there.

What can you tell us about the contract?

We can't talk about the particulars of the deal. What we can say is it is a three year deal. We're excited about having him. As he gets older, it's going to be more important that he understands his role. We've talked about that. The great thing about that is Nate really likes that. Nate likes the fact that he can have another player on the floor that is maybe a little like Nate. A player that can direct traffic, get you into your sets, have a ton of experience out there, been in a lot of playoff games. Nate really liked that.

Did Nate push for this move?

No question. Nate felt great about the meeting. We try to debate pretty hard, every merit of each deal. Nate was fully on board with this. And you could tell the chemistry he had in the dinner we had.

Is this one of the final pieces to a championship puzzle?

Well I don't know if its the final puzzle but I know it's a good piece. Everybody we've talked to about Andre raved about him. Said he's good in the locker room but once the game starts you can see how he coaches out on the floor. I thought two years ago he really willed his team into the playoffs and then did it last year. He just has that basketball savvy and knowlege that young guys need to see. We feel like that's probably the biggest thing we can look forward to. He can make Greg Oden better. He can make Nicolas Batum better. He can get shots for Rudy Fernandez, Brandon, LaMarcus, he said it during the meeting. He couldn't have said it any better. He knows he can make these kids better. That's the key - he knows he can make these kids better and we've always felt like we've neeed that. His leadership is something we'll lean upon.

How much better does Andre Miller make this team?

Well we hope a lot better but you never know. Getting the pieces and getting the players we felt good about, that 54 win team is basically still intact. If you add some leadership to it, some knowledge and experience, hopefully that will take us over the edge in the playoffs. How far I don't know? But i do know this: we'll be a better team throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs.

What does this mean for Jerryd Bayless going forward?

It's going to be competitive at every position. We've always said we've wanted that. Nate has been pretty demonstrative in that. Good competition leads to better play during the season and hopefully into the playoffs.

Did you make a run after Andre Miller at the trade deadline last year?

I'm not going to speculate on what happened there. We've always liked Andre, had respect for him and are happy he's part of the organization now.

How does Miller fit with Roy? 

There's going to be competition at that point guard position. I'm not saying that Andre is the starter. Nate didn't say that. We think there's going to be competition. But we think they can help each other. That's what going to be really fun. As you grow as a team, you get more mature and you understand your role, players can help each other, I think they can. How he plays off Brandon, again I'm going back to that dinner, he showed and he talked about specific situations where he can get Brandon easier buckets. Where Brandon won't have to work quite as hard. I don't want to get into those specifics but it was pretty impressive the way he talked about it.

It sounds like he wanted to come to Portland he sold himself on you guys?

There was no question he wanted to be here. He talked about taking the next step in the playoffs. He talked about teaching. When you have all these recruits and potential draftees come in, you talk to them. And then we had Andre. It was like boys versus a man who has been in the league and knows what it's all about . He gets it. Andre Miller gets it.

Andre has been a transition point guard; your teams have been slow-paced. How do you resolve that tension?

I don't think it's a tension. Nate has made a commitment and talked about how he wants to get extra possessions and get up and down and thought Andre would be a big part of that. One of our keys is getting easier buckets and even though we were very efficient offensively we can become better getting easier buckets in transition. Nate and Andre talked about that quite a bit.

Did Bayless's performance in Summer League have any influence on this move?

Zero. We still believe in Bayless.

Can you give me an update on Dante Cunningham?

Sure. He had a terrific Summer League. Nate thinks he has a chance to get into the rotation. He has to have a good summer of work. I hear he's talking about going to Grgurich's camp. But we really like him. He's very poised. You can tell he played for a very good college coach and we expect big things from him.

Can you give us an update on Greg Oden in Las Vegas?

Sure. Yesterday in halfcourt drills he won every drill. His team did. They played more full court today. He was unbelievable on the boards. Still needs to get in better shape. It's amazing in these select practices. Everybody goes out so hard and so intense and then there's a drop off. He's got to push through that and he knows it. We like what we're seeing. He's showing a more positive energy. He's blocking shots. He had a couple of dunks today. He's getting better and that's the big thing, we want to see progress.

Will you carry 15 players?

I think that all depends on who comes available. Some guys are going to get cut. We'll watch the waiver wire pretty closely. But we like our roster right now. It's not like we're going after a certain player. We want to sit tight a little bit and see what shakes free.

You won't look for trades right now?

Oh, we always look for trades but it's not as important right now.

Are you looking for backup power forwards?

I think we've found a couple of guys in Summer League who can play that position. Dante and Jeff both had really good Summer Leagues so you're looking at 15 minutes a game at that position. Nate is so comfortable with Travis going to that Power Forward and being that spread Power Forward. That's been successful for us because it lets us get easy shots and that's why we were one of the most efficient offensive teams. You can never have too many bigs. We'll watch that. We'll see what guys get waived, or trades, or all those kinds of things. We're comfortable going into the season with what we have.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)