NOTE: YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN KILLING THE SERVERS. SORRY FOR ANY DELAYS IN LOAD TIME. THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE.
Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller addressed a swarm of media members at the Rose Garden in what was dubbed an "informal media availability" in response to repeated requests for comment. Miller spoke for 21 minutes.
Note: the Blazers' practice facility will open Thursday morning. I'll be on site to see if anyone shows up. If no one shows up I will bring shorts and tennis shoes in my trunk and look to impress the 43 basketball operations people (but zero GMs) that are sure to be in the building.
Update: A spokesperson from the NBA league office informs Blazersedge that restricted free agents who are not yet under contract with their team cannot participate in training camps until signed officially. Miller appears to suggest below that Blazers center Greg Oden, who is a restricted free agent with an $8.8 million qualifying offer tendered back in June, would be able to participate in Blazers training camp before signing a contract with the team. Oden would need to accept the Qualifying Offer or agree to a multi-year contract extension before he could participate in camp. Free agency and training camp both begin on Dec. 9.
For a condensed version of the most important points, click here.
Here's a full transcript of what Miller had to say. A breakdown and thoughts are coming. Note: everything in the gray boxes is a word-for-word quote. Questions are bolded and paraphrased.
First of all, I want to say that I'm excited that we are here to talk about basketball. I want to start off by thanking all of our fans, our season ticketholders, our sponsors, all the folks who have stayed with us and supported us through this challenging time. I'm glad we are back and I'm glad basketball is about to start here. Can't wait for the Rose Garden to get rocking again.
Amnestying Brandon Roy?
The reality is that we have not - and regardless of what's been said by John Canzano and others out there - no decision has been made on amnesty as of yet. We are still looking at every possible option that is available to us but we have not made a decision as far as Brandon or anyone at this point.
The first call that [Acting GM] Chad [Buchanan] made this morning, he counted the clock down at 5:59, 6:00 this morning, his first call was to Brandon's agent to talk about how Brandon is doing, when we can sit down and have a conversation with Brandon. With everything that Brandon has done for this organization, there's no way we would make a decision like that without having conversations with them, without evaluating where he is and seeing what's going on with him.
Regardless of what anyone else is saying out there, that is not the case. We have not made a decision yet. For anyone who thinks that I'm just standing here saying that and it's not true, they don't know me. Anybody that knows me or has worked with me before, that's had interactions with me before, that's not how I operate. Again, unequivocally no definitive decision has been made about amnestying Brandon or any of our players.
Want to see Brandon in training camp first?
That would make sense, right? Brandon has done a lot for this organization. He's been one of the people who really helped this organization around. So to make a decision like that without looking at every possible factor involved in that decision just wouldn't make sense.
Timing of the decision
The other thing that's different than this amnesty than other amnesties, is that this amnesty is available throughout the life of this CBA for any player that is under contract right now. We would look at it and if we were going to make a decision for this year, it would have to be within a certain time period. But we have not made that decision yet.
What did Brandon's agent tell Chad?
I didn't talk to the agent. Basically he said that Brandon is feeling good. He feels like he's able to play and that he is willing to sit down and talk to us so we're going to continue that conversation. We basically have asked the agent to set up a time for Brandon to sit down with us. Hopefully, and I don't know the answer to this, because we haven't been able to talk to Brandon, I'm hoping he will be here when we open the doors tomorrow.
When does an amnesty decision need to be made prior to the 2011-2012 season?
Not sure yet. That's still something that the league hasn't defined clearly for us yet but they will.
We put that on pause. It continues to be on pause. I and the rest of us are confident that with Chad, with [coach] Nate [McMillan], with myself, with the people that we have in place here, we can make the decisions that this team needs made to be able to move this team forward and to be ready to go into next season. We know what we need in order to get better. We've been looking at all the free agents that are out there that can help us. Our biggest need and I'm sure this is not a surprise to anybody, is in the post. We need post players. That's what we have been looking at. Chad has been working the phones all day today. He's probably talked to 20 different agents today about players that can help us. We still have the GM search on pause. We are going to continue to move forward with the team that we have in place right now. I'm confident as is [owner] Paul [Allen] as is the rest of the organization in Chad and in the team that we have in place.
Timetable for new GM?
Operating as if you will have mini-Mid-Level exception?
We are looking at all of our potential options out there as far as free agency is concerned. RIght now, being taxpayers, we would have the mini-Mid-Level so definitely that's how we are proceeding but we are looking at all of the potential options that would be out there for us.
Make it through season with no GM?
Possibly. Again, no timetable on it right now. The thing for us with the GM is that we want to bring somebody in is going to be additive to our current staff. We don't want to just add what we already have. We want to bring in somebody and when we do bring in a GM that really enhances the team that we have in place. We just didn't feel like we found that in our initial search and right now we are happy with where we are.
Does Chad have autonomy or is this a group call?
It's always, always, no matter who is in that chair, it's always a group call here because at the end of the day it's Paul, it's myself, it's the general manager, that's really how decisions have gotten made here. That's how they are going to continue to get made, whether it's Chad in that role or someone else in that role.
Status of Greg Oden
Chad also talked to Greg's agent today. From all indications, Greg is doing very well. His rehab is going great. The doctors are pleased with where he is. Mentally it sounds like Greg is in a good place. I think he feels good about our organization and how we've supported him through all this. Hopefully Greg will be here and will be able to help us out this season.
Is January target date still?
It's still around the same timing. Which, again, he won't be ready for the start of the season but we're hoping by January that he's able to play.
Will Oden be in training camp?
He'll hopefully be in training camp. Don't know how much activity he will be able to participate in but he should be here.
But he's still a free agent?
Right now, the way it is set up, our practice facility is not only open to our contracted players but it's open to any potential free agents or anybody.
That's for workouts, what about training camp?
When training camp starts, by then hopefully we will know whether Greg is going to be here or not. Because free agency will be over at that point.
But camp starts on the same day as free agency. Can he begin training camp as a free agent?
I'm pretty sure he can.
You said that Chad talked to 20 agents. Was Joel Przybilla's agent one?
Interested in pursuing him?
Again we are looking at post players. Joel fits that role for us. He's somebody that helped us when he was here. Great guy, great fit for this organization. If we could work it out, Joel would be a good fit for us for sure.
Extending Nicolas Batum?
We're definitely talking about that but Nic is somebody that we see as a part of this organization going forward. He's a part of the future of this organization.
Jeff, again, is somebody that fits the post player that we are looking at. Hopefully Jeff is healthy and ready to play. He's somebody that we would also take a look at.
Ticket response from fans
Our season ticketholders for the most part have stuck with us. We've had some that got frustrated but for the majority they've stuck with us and decided that they were going to hang in there with us until this got worked out. Most of our season ticketholders have stayed with us.
How many didn't renew?
A small percentage. A small percentage. Hundreds (not thousands).
Our renewal percentage is about where it was at this point last year actually. It hasn't dropped off very much at all.
Describe the roster
I think our roster is pretty good. I think we know where we need some help. We're looking to try to add that help. If we have a healthy Greg and a healthy Brandon we've got a great roster. If there's some issues there then we've got to figure out what we are going to do. I think our roster is good. I'm expecting LaMarcus [Aldridge] to be an All-star this year. I think Nic... Nic has been tearing up the European league. I think he's going to come back and really help us this year. I think with Wesley [Matthews] and the other players we have, I think we have a good roster and I think we are going to add the pieces that are needed to help us get better.
Are you trying to win now or rebuild or?
The goal always for us is to make the team better. If you look at the history of what Paul Allen has done since he's owned this team, it's been to try to win. That hasn't changed at all. That continues to be the goal. We're also, always, since I've been here, and even before, but definitely since I've been here, we've tried to do it from a dual position where our goal is to win games but we're also trying to be fiscally responsible. I think this new collective bargaining agreement with the new revenue sharing system that is going to go into place will help us to do both. That was the goal of going into this. Not just for us but for every team.
Will owner Paul Allen address the media?
Hopefully. Again, I don't know whether or when Paul will be ready to address the media but hopefully he will. At that point, that was before the lockout and a lot has happened since that point but hopefully he will.
Wait to see if offers come in on Oden and match, wll you make an extension or what's the plan?
We're looking at all of those. We are looking at having some conversations about extending, if an offer does come in we'll look at it at that point and decide if we're going to match it at that point. But we're looking at both of those situations. [Multi-year deal] is a possibility.
How much of a plan do you have done?
100 percent. Our guys have been working feverishly behind the scenes as much as possible because there was some limitations on being able to talk to agents and that type of thing. But we have a plan. Between Chad, Nate, myself, we have a plan. Now it's just a matter of whether we can execute that plan.
How many pieces in plan?
Depends. That depends on whether we can pick up the first part of our plan comes through or if we have to go to Plan B or Plan C but we have a plan and we are looking to execute that plan. Greg is a part of Plan A.
Portrayal of Paul Allen during lockout?
I think it was unfair. I think Paul basically looked to express his views in trying to get the best possible deal for the Trail Blazers as well as for the rest of the league and specifically with the focus on small market teams. He spoke up, voiced his opinions on what he thought should and shouldn't happen and he was unfairly villainized because of doing that. In the end, I think we got ... I can't talk about the deal, that's still taboo from the league, but I think Paul basically was just trying to do what he could to get the best possible deal.
Schedule release date?
We don't have it yet. We hope to have a schedule by early next week.
Speculation that Allen took hard-line stance to position himself to sell team
To me, it would seem like it would make sense the opposite way, right? He wouldn't care very much if that were the case. At this point the team is not for sale. I think Paul, his goal was to try to get the best deal he possibly could not just for the Trail Blazers but for the NBA.
There is a home-and-home with Utah. The dates are still being finalized on that.
When does your regular season start?
Don't know yet.
What have the last four months been like?
I think my butt print is on one of the seats on the Continental flight between here and New York because I've flown back and forth between here and New York, and the folks at the hotel know me personally. It's been a real, it was a real interesting process and a real interesting time for me. I got to see how some things work from an inside position. I also got to see how things get distorted sometimes. Where this is what is really happening and this is what is being reported. Not you guys. Not the Portland media. Portland media gets it right all the time.
Will original schedule remain the same?
Don't know at all. They are working through a whole new schedule I think. So some of it may be the same but now we're looking at 66 games instead of 82. There's going to be some additional time added on the back of the season so the season will be extended somewhat. As far as with games and who we are going to play and when the season is going to start and where we are going to be, we don't have any of that yet.
Indication of how many players show up tomorrow?
I don't. I know we have not... the only people who have been able to talk to players are our training staff. I do know Jay has reached out to all of our guys and I'm sure some will show up tomorrow and I would assume over the weekend that more will trickle in and that by, hopefully, over the weekend or early next week, the majority if not all of them will be here.
Is Brandon Roy Plan A like Greg Oden?
Brandon is a part of that plan as well. But again we are going to look at every option that is available to us before we make a decision on where we are going. It's not like it's unknown that Brandon had health issues last year. Everybody knows that. But, again, what Brandon did for this organization, what he's meant to this community, what he's meant to this team, there would be no way we would make a decision like this without looking at every possible factor involved. And that's exactly what we are doing right now.
Can you get sense for his status before games start?
We can try. We can talk to Brandon. We can see how he feels. We can look at it and make an evaluation at that point. We're going to look at every factor involved including the fan factor. For us to say, 'Hey we're just going to do this and not consider how the fans feel about it, how the community feels about it' -- we're going to look at all of that. Our goal is and continues to be to make our team better. To try to get better as a team, to try to win. That's what all of our decisions are going to be based off of.
No decision on Brandon Roy yet?
Absolutely no decision has been made regardless of what anyone says. No decision has been made at this point.
Expect Brandon Roy at training camp on Dec. 9?
Biggest concern heading into season?
My biggest concern I guess is that we really go into the season focused on basketball. Last year, the end of the season, our season ended with a bad taste in our mouth. I absolutely thought we were going to beat Dallas especially after Game 4. I thought we were going to win that series and go on. Dallas, I got a chance to spend a lot of time with [Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban during the contract negotiations because he's on the committee, he told me that we were by far the toughest team that they played in the playoffs. That, to me, that's inspiring to me because that says we have... we are a good team and we need to add that few pieces here and there to get better. But I think that we can compete and really challenge Dallas and the other teams in this league. For me it's making sure that we stay focused on doing what we can to get better as a team.
Lost Bill Bayno
Bill Bayno was great for this team. Bill did some great things while he was here. Bill got an opportunity that we just couldn't match. Bill decided to take advantage of that opportunity, we wish him the best, but I think we've got a great coaching staff, still. And I know that a lot of the players because of the connections they have with coaches, they get kind of attached, but I think with the coaching staff that we have now, we won't miss a beat and I think that our players will be just as connected to the coaches we have today as they were to Bill and the other coaches we have. I believe we'll be fine from a coaching perspective.
Can you build a good coaching staff without multi-year contracts?
If you look at somebody like, what's his name in Utah, for years, he did one-year contracts every single year. That was his deal. He wanted to prove himself every year that he was deserving of a new contract. I think you can. I think we have a good coaching staff. I think Nate is one of the best in the league. And I think with Nate and the rest of the coaches that we have out there, I think we'll be fine from a coaching perspective.
Exploring trades for post needs or primarily free agency?
Right now it's free agency, that's the focus because that's what is about to open up for us. If there are trades out there we will explore that as well. We're looking at every option we can to get better but right now the focus is on free agency.
Response to people who say 'how do you not have a GM right now'?
I think with, again, with the experience that Nate brings to the table, I think Chad and what he has done and been around and the things Chad has had an opportunity to be exposed to, I think I bring something to the table in terms of understanding how basketball works and what players can help us or not. And then with the rest of the staff we have out there, with Mike Born, Bill Branch, that whole staff there, I think we're in really, really good shape. Again, to me, our goal was to find a GM that was going to enhance the team that we have out there. I think we're good. Can we get better? Absolutely. Right now, I think we are in really good shape. I'm confident that this team that we've had out there has worked to put a plan together that will help us get to the next level.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter