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Transcript: Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan Talks Blazers, Roster, Strengths & Weaknesses

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The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Monday that the organization has decided to part ways with GM Rich Cho after less than one year. 


Previously on Blazersedge


The team named Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan to serve as Acting General Manager. I spoke with Buchanan, who is in Minnesota taking part in pre-draft scouting, on Monday night. Buchanan discussed how he found out about today's news, his first reaction, the strengths and weaknesses he brings to the table, his vision for the team, how much work needs to be done to make this a championship contending club and how the team's chain of command will function in the lead up to the NBA Draft.

Click through for a full transcript of Buchanan's comments.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter

When/how did you hear about today's news?

We were told shortly before they announced it today as a group. Larry talked to us as a group. He told us that a decision has been made. He wanted to designate a single person as the contact, point person during this interim basis. Larry asked me to do that and I’m more than willing to take that role. I still view our staff as Mike, Bill, Steve, Joe Cronin and I, we’re all going to be in this together. There’s a lot of synergy here amongst our group and I think there will be moving forward too.

After they made the announcement publicly we had several calls as a group today. We have three of us – Mike [Born], Rosey [Steve Rosenberry] and I are in Minnesota – I’ve had several conversations today with Bill [Branch] and we talked to Nate [McMIllan] and we tried to get through this first day and getting ourselves organized moving forward.

 Fans, media, scouts all dream about being an NBA GM. Was this a dream for you?

You know, I’ve never really set a GM position or anything like that as a goal. I’ve always approached whatever is in front of me as I want to do that as the best job that I can. Whatever is on my plate, I’ll put my full effort into it. Whatever opportunities arise if you do a good job, then you make a decision if it’s the right situation for you. I didn’t set out to want to become a GM when I was hired by the Blazers. I just wanted to win a championship. That has not changed. I think all of us our staff all have that same goal. In the meantime, whatever the organization asks from us we’re willing to fulfill that role right now.

 Larry Miller said that you, Mike Born and the Assistant GMs reported to Rich Cho who reported to Larry, is that correct?


 How will the reporting chain of command work in the short-term (prior to the draft)?

I think we’ll all still be reporting to Larry. We’re going to meet as a staff here once we all get back to Portland. We’ll reconvene in a couple days here. Go over specifics like that. It’s still kind of processing the events of the day. We’ve talked a little bit about how we’ll fulfill our roles. Once we get together in a couple of days, we’ll really define those more vividly.

 Your first though on today's news? Excitement? Shock?

The first emotion is that you feel for Rich. A good person who lost his job today. Has a great family. That’s your first emotion that you’ll think about tonight for me. When I first heard the news, that’s obviously the first thing I think of. Rich as a person, what he’s going through, feeling right now. At the end of the day, we’ve got to regroup, collect ourselves, and find a way to get ourselves moving forward on the plan that we’ve talked about with this team for the last month or so. Making sure we’re staying the course in the areas that we want to address.

Ultimately you always come back, before you fall asleep, is how do we make this team better. Every one of us on our staff is constantly thinking about that. That’s not going to change tonight when I put myself down to go to sleep.

There were references to Rich's chemistry with Paul Allen. How would you describe Rich's communication style? 

We work close with Rich on a day-to-day basis. He allows you to do your job. He listens. He’s a great listener. He stays out of your way. He wants to hear your opinions as a scout, that’s all you can ask for. As for any chemistry issues or problems with anybody above us, I’d have to defer those questions to Larry. We worked very well with Rich on a daily basis from a scouting staff standpoint.

 How active is coach Nate McMillan in your draft process and roster planning right now?

He was in Chicago with us last week. We had dinner with him, talked a lot about the team. Throughout the season you have a lot of dialogue with your head coach. He has strong feelings about our team and what we need, as do the rest of us. I think a lot of discussion takes place and has taken place about what we need to do to help improve this roster and get us out of the first round next year and hopefully beyond that.

We want to take Nate’s impact because we do value his input and it’s a matter of listening to everybody and making a group decision on this. What’s our next move, whether it’s draft, trade, free agency, it’s a collective effort, we discuss it and we want to analyze every angle of the equation that we can. We want to hear what his opinion is on our team. It is valued from our standpoint.

 What's your vision for getting this Blazers team past the first round of the playoffs? Do you model the organization after a specific team?

As far as trying to model yourself after a team, it changes from year to year, who you’re trying to model yourself after. What we try to look for is a team that has had sustained success. You look for a team like the Spurs who had a long run there, or still are in the middle of a good run, teams that are consistent from year to year. They have guys that understand their role. And obviously you have to have some cornerstones that we’re building around.  

We feel like LaMarcus is definitely that and we’re still evaluating who might be another pillar for us. As far as how many moves away are we, that’s a really tough question to answer. Our team has needs. Whether we can address that with one move or three moves, it’s hard to give you an exact number of how you fix what your roster needs. I think the best thing that we can do is be prepared to take advantage of opportunities that presents itself. We’ll be aggressive trying to make our team better in this draft and free agency. You’ve got to be ready to jump on an opportunity and that’s how you make steps to become a better team. And we’re going to be aggressive and confident and try to do that this offseason.

 What's your self-assessment scouting report on Chad Buchanan the executive?

I would say my strengths are my overall work ethic and love for the game. I think I have a very strong belief in how you win and win at a high level, win at this game itself. I strongly believe in valuing everyone around you. That includes players, coaches, staff. I think everybody has to feel invested and part of what the ultimate goal is.

I think I have a strong sense of emotional connection to people, which can also be a weakness for me. I find that trading players for me can be hard for me because you get attached to players and families. You see them from a human side. Sometimes maybe that’s not a good thing from an executive standpoint, that you have a human connection to people that you’re eventually going to have to make tough decisions on.

Another weakness for me is that I’ve never really focused a ton on Collective Bargaining Agreement. The rules of the salary cap. I have a general understanding of a lot of issues but not the deep layers of it. It’s not something that I’m totally or completely familiar with. Overall I’ve got a good feel for the game of basketball and people and I consider myself a good person who wants to do well for this team and our owner and our fans. I think every one of those people deserves to feel good about our team.

I go to bed every night dreaming about what it would be like to win a championship for this city and for our owner and for our players and coaches. It’s something that drives me every day.

What is the draft prep process looking like in the near future?

Our first workouts in Portland will be Monday, June 6. We'll hold four or five days total of workouts. Some of those will be double days. We'll workout a total of 35-40 guys. Less than in previous years.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter