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Transcript: Blazers President Larry Miller Speaks With "Wheels At Work"

larry miller
larry miller

This afternoon, 95.5FM's Brian Wheeler and Kenny Vance interviewed Portland Trail Blazers President Larry Miller here in Las Vegas on Wheels At Work.  Here's a link to the show's page where you can listen to the audio and download the podcast.

The big headline was Miller confirming that he has interviewed Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Rich Cho for Portland's open general manager position.  Aside from that, Miller: agreed that Utah's trade for Al Jefferson makes it more likely that Wesley Matthews will be a Blazer, said that the team is ready to be active on the trade market, that he still wasn't ready to name any other candidates or set a timeline for his general manager search and that Nate McMillan will hire his head coaches independent of the team's general manager search.

Click through for a full transcript of the interview. 

-- Ben Golliver | I Twitter

Questions have been paraphrased.  Larry Miller's answers are word for word.

With Utah trading for Al Jefferson do you think it's more likely they will not match the Wesley Matthews offer?

On paper it would make it seem that way. We still haven't heard anything back. We put together what we thought was an offer that would be challenging for them and again we'll wait and see what happens.

Where is the GM process at right now?

As far as the process is concerned, I've definitely talked to some additional people. I think we're getting to a point where we're starting to settle in on a couple of people who are our target focus.  We're going to continue to process, kinda narrow it down a little bit and hopefully we can get something done soon. We never set a direct deadline in terms of when we wanted to get it done. We just wanted to take our time and get it done and also do it with a sense of urgency and I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms but that's the way we're approaching it.

Did you interview Rich Cho and how did it go?

Yeah I did talk to Rich Cho and it did go good. For a guy that has not been a general manager, he's been a number two guy for quite awhile. what I got from Rich was that he's done a phenomenal job and has a lot of the qualifications that we're looking for.

I hear that he is a very detailed, versatile executive.

That's what I got from him and other people that've I talked to about him. Very detailed, on top of everything, very focused, has been involved in just about every aspect of a basketball team, both on the business side as well as basketball. He actually runs their d-league team, a lot of positive qualities about him.

Are you getting ready to have Owner Paul Allen interview a finalist?

It could be more than one person. The final step will be getting one or two people in front of Paul to have him make the final "OK, yeah, let's pull the trigger here." Again, that's the way the process works, it should work. We go through the preliminary and kind of get to a point where we think we've got people or a person that will work for the role and then get that person in front of Paul.

What's the status with Danny Ferry?

Danny is still somebody that is part of what we're doing. He's still in the process. I know it's gotten out that Danny has talked to other teams and that's absolutely fine because as we're talking to other people it would make sense for him, if there were other opportunities to look at those as well. He is still very interested in this opportunity and he's part of our process.

Is Rick Pfund still a candidate?


Is it down to those final three names?

There could be others.

Has a sense of order been restored after some time has passed since Kevin Pritchard was let go?

There was this kind of uncertainty hanging out there around Kevin for the last couple of months. It affected everybody. It affected the organization, it affected the fans, it affected everybody. There was this uncertainty about what's going to happen. There was all this speculation that was out there. We're at a position where we're saying "ok, it is what it is. Let's move forward and let's keep things going." If you look at where we are this summer compared to where we were this time last summer, even without a GM and an assistant GM in place, we're still about where we were. We made the run at Tukoglu last year and that didn't happen. We made the offer sheet to Millsap, Utah matched. And we ended up with Andre Miller. We didn't go after one of the big free agent guys because that wasn't in the cards this year. You've got to have cap space, which we didn't. To go out and sign one of those big 3, 4, 5 or 6 guys that was out there, it just wasn't in the cards for us with the teams we have. We looked at the free agent parket and said, 'Hey, here's a guy that brings some things to the table that we need, in Wes Matthews. Let's go hard at him. And that's what we decided to do."

Will you wait to hire assistant coaches until you have a new GM in place?

Those are kind of Nate's calls and I know there's [talk that] the "Vulcans" have forced him -- that's totally not the case. Nate and I talked about this and basically what Nate said is that when he first got here the team was at a certain point and he needed a coaching staff that fit where he felt the team was at that point. The team is at a totally different point today and he felt like once the decision was made that Monty was leaving I think Nate looked at his staff, "You know what, we're at a different point now than when I initially built this staff, let me make sure I've got the right staff in place for where this team is and where it's trying to go. He made the decision to make some changes but that was Nate's call.

Are you guys ready to be a big player in the trade market?

I think we're always in that position, looking for that opportunity to find that one guy or two guys that gets us to the point where we think we are to truly ready to challenge. We're not waiting, we're continuing to look at that. If something like that materializes we will absolutely go after it and present it to Paul and see if it's something that he's willing to do.

How did the NBA Board of Governors meeting go?

To keep from getting fined I'm going to watch what I say here. I think ownership is committed to looking at how we're going to move forward as far as the collective bargaining agreement is concerned. I don't think anything that's happened up to this point has changed that at all. There is a commitment to look at what is in place right now as far as the agreement with the players and make some changes to that. And again that commitment hasn't wavered at all based on whatever's happened in the course of free agency. It was a very interesting meeting. For me, being able to represent Paul in those meetings is interesting to me. I do think there continues to be that commitment in terms of ownership saying something has to change here.

-- Ben Golliver | I Twitter