On Tuesday night, Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan joined Jay Allen on 750 The Game's The Daily Wrap to discuss the firing of Rich Cho, the team's draft preparations, Portland's European prospects, the latest on the futures of point guard Andre Miller, center Greg Oden and shooting guard Brandon Roy.
Here's a full transcript of the interview.
What was last week like?
Well it started last Monday. I wasn't expecting it to end the way when I went into Monday morning. I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for some draft workouts. I was told the news, told that we were going to re-shift some roles here leading up to the draft until they find a full-time replacement GM. It kind of caught us off-guard.
At the same time, it's a part of the business and you feel bad for Rich [Cho]. He's a good person and a good man. I enjoyed working for him. At the same time, we have to move forward, we have new roles and we're going to make the most of it and try to improve our team this month.
Did you see the Rich Cho firing coming?
I would say I didn't see it coming. I can't speak for what sort of connection Mr. Allen and Rich had. That would be a question for somebody else. I can just speak for my daily interaction with Rich, which was positive. It's a part of the business, you've got to be prepared for just about anything in our business. It kind of comes with the territory. Like I said, we're going to move on. We've got some new roles, we've got a plan we're going to try to execute and we'll see where it takes us.
This is a great time of year. Any time you have a chance to make some improvements in your team it's a fun and exciting time. At this point we've scouted these players extensively dating back to once last year's draft ended. There's several summer events in which you can begin scouting for next year's draft. We've spent the last 10 or 11 months closely watching these guys. Now we're at the point where we are getting to know them as people. We've interviewed some of these players in Chicago at the pre-draft combine. We'll have several coming into Portland in the next couple of weeks leading up to the draft.
A lot of discussions, a lot of film watching, a lot of conversations on the phone with agents, coaches, different sources that we like to reach out to this time of year. A lot of daily discussion and interaction amongst our staff. Obviously you're talking to other teams around the league for trade scenarios as well. It's an active time in our league and it's an exciting time for every team because it's an opportunity to try to improve your team.
Are you leading trade discussions now?
We've kind of started that in recent days. I've been designated the point person on this between myself, Mike Born, Bill Branch, Steve Rosenberry, Joe Cronin. The five of us have interacted all season long, had a lot of discussions about our team and things we would like to do in the offseason and the draft. We're just kind of continuing and carrying forward with those plans. Ultimately at the end of the day it's me talking to other GMs but it is a team effort. All of our decisions that are made are group decisions. I've been designated the lead but I view us all as a team on equal ground.
Prospects that are coming to Portland
We're going to do less workouts this year. We won't bring in quite as many people as we did in the past. Right now I have between 35-40 scheduled to come through Portland. We'll be sending out a press release this week on our first draft workout which will take place Monday, June 6. There's quite a few players that will be coming through so to pinpoint one or two, I don't want to tip my hand to anybody about who is a priority guy for us.
Lunch with Greg Oden
Mike [Born] and I were down in Los Angeles last week for a draft workout and Greg is spending the majority of his offseason down there training and getting himself healthy, rehabbing his knee. We got together with Greg, watched him work out and had lunch with him. For us, we were just going down there to sit down with Greg, see how he's doing, and give him a little pat on the back because he's been working his tail off all year. The fans and the media probably don't get to see it as much but Greg is really locked in and focused on getting himself healthy again. We want to be here to support him.
We're in L.A., he's in L.A. so we got together, had a nice informal and casual lunch with him. It was a great conversation, we feel great about where Greg is at and I think he's going to be back playing again next year.
Who paid for lunch?
I think he's making a lot more than us but I felt like it was probably more appropriate for us to pick it up.
What is Oden doing workout-wise?
We just watched him go through a strength training workout, doing a lot of core work. He's obviously limited on a lot of things he can do with his leg. He's getting himself strong, he's losing some weight, trying to get himself in good shape for when he's cleared to do more things on his leg as far as jogging and riding the bike and the treadmill and things like that. We just watched him do a basic strength training workout.
Do you anticipate Oden playing for the Trail Blazers next season?
Uh, you know, we've had a lot of discussions about Greg. At this point we haven't made any definitive decision on anything with him at this point. That's our vision, how we envision next season, that he will be playing for us.
Does this draft have a position of particular strength?
Grading the draft is tough. You grade it on basically on what you're trying to get out of it. For us, at pick 21, in this draft you have a very, very slim chance of getting a guy who has a chance to be a star type player, a core type player as we call them. I think there are players in the last half of the first round that are proven college players that you're confident they are able to step in and help your team. It's probably in a backup role or a role type position but I think for us we have a couple needs we'd like to address and I think we'll have some options at 21 to address those needs.
You love this time of year
I do. For me, you travel all year, you get to watch these guys and evaluate them but you have no chance to interact with them due to NBA rules. This is the time of year, I'm a people person, I like to get to know people. This is the time of year you get to do that with these guys. You've formulated a basketball evaluation of them throughout the last 12 months, some of these guys you've been evaluating for five or six years. Now you get a chance to include the personal aspects of your evaluation of them. That's exciting for me because you have a lot of things you want to talk to them about. You have questions for them, they have questions for you.
You start to envision: Does this guy fit with our team? Is he going to fit with our locker room? Will he fit with Nate? Will he fit with our players? It's a fun time of year. The travel throughout the year, you're basically in the gym watching them. They know you're there but there's no interaction. That's the fun part of this time of year: the interaction, getting to know them.
European players Blazers have the rights to: Petteri Koponen, Victor Claver, Joel Freeland
We drafted all three -- Victor, Joel and Petteri -- at a very young age. We want to make sure that when we do bring them over they are ready to help us.
Joel Freeland has had a terrific year playing over in Malaga, Spain. He's one of the top big men in all of Europe. He's under contract over there, he's doing well over there. Him trying to find the right time over here is a conversation that we've had because he wants to come over when he knows he's going to get good minutes for us, which we don't blame.
Petteri Koponen had another strong season as well. He's playing mostly off the ball for a team over in Bologna, Italy.
Victor Claver just recently returned from a foot injury and he's had a terrific season. Victor has really made a big jump in his development. We have conversations probably on a monthly basis with their agents on when is the right time to bring them over. Trying to find the right timing for us and for them is a challenge but it won't be before too long that you'll see at least one of those guys coming over to play for us.
Andre Miller's team option
I think it's a daily discussion going on still in regards to Andre. We are not blind to what Andre has done for us the last few years, what he's meant for this team, we recognize his value. At the same time we have to evaluate all of our options and that's kind of the process we are going through right now. Andre Miller -- we would not have made the playoffs the last few years without Andre Miller and we are very, very aware of that. We consider that, that's taken into consideration in all of the discussions about Andre and his future.
We all recognize -- if you watch Game 3 and Game 4 of our playoff series -- that Brandon Roy has still got some game. We are very conscious of that. People have counted him out but I think we all recognize that Brandon can play at a high level. Whether it's for 82 games or not? I think that's something that Brandon is still trying to figure out with his body and where he's at. I think for our coaches and for Nate trying to figure out best how to utilize him knowing his health moving forward. I think we're both kind of in the feeling now: How is this going to work moving forward?
Brandon Roy has meant the world to this organization, he's helped resurrect our franchise, we're very appreciate of that. We have not had any discussions with Brandon about anything since the season ended. We let our guys decompress and get away from the game. We'll start to re-engage with Brandon here, making sure that he's on course for this summer to do the things he needs to do to be ready for next season.
You believe Brandon will be a Blazer next season?
I have no reason to believe otherwise.
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