Portland Trail Blazers Neil Olshey answered the following questions from Blazersedge Thursday after a press conference in which the team introduced Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Earl Watson and Dorell Wright.
Olshey offers some additional thoughts on some of the new Blazers, discusses LaMarcus Aldridge's feelings on this summer, provides specifics on the terms of the trades that landed Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez, and gauges Portland's postseason chances.
Blazersedge: Can you expand on the idea that you raised in the press conference that names don't win games, teams win games?
What do you think it means?
Blazersedge: I have a good sense for what I think you mean by that, but I would like to hear you elaborate.
Teams win games. Putting together the right roster construction, guys that complement each other, guys that know their role, guys that bring a skillset that the coaches can take advantage of, that they can maximize their talent and making sure there's a cohesion. Just putting together a bunch of names, doesn't necessarily translate to wins. You're going to do this as a whole, as a group, with guys that buy into your culture, that buy into your style of play, that are willing to sacrifice for the team. There's times that that's more valuable than just getting somebody that has more name awareness.
Blazersedge: You said back in April during the exit interview to ask you after the draft, free agency and trades whether you guys would be a playoff team. Will you compete for a playoff spot?
I mean, look, the goal of every team is to make the playoffs. One through 30, everybody is hoping right now that the moves they made make them a playoff team. Whether that's an expectation or not, we'll know more as we see how good our young guys are, we haven't even gotten Allen [Crabbe] or CJ [McCollum] to Summer League yet. We want to see how quickly Thomas [Robinson] is going to get caught up, what his skills are, how they are going to be utilized. I know one thing: We're a lot closer than we were 13 days ago.
Blazersedge: Personality-wise and culture-wise, how do you feel like Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson fit in with the younger core of guys you've got established here?
For Thomas, first, I think it's a great situation. He's coming in with the reigning Rookie of the Year. He's coming in with Meyers [Leonard] who has been one of our hardest workers this offseason. He's got young guys who are going through the same kind of growing pains he is. Not everybody is going to get it all at once. The beauty of having seven or eight guys on the first couple years of their contract allows Thomas to go through those pains with somebody else. Where he's not the outlier with a team of a bunch of veterans. There's a veteran presence [here], but enough young guys where they're going to grow together.
As far as Robin, Robin is going to be great. I think LaMarcus [Aldridge] is really happy about it. I know Nicolas [Batum] is, so is Wesley [Matthews], so is [Damian Lillard]. Just to have somebody that is a back line defender, who can watch their back, can lay wood on people, can be a presence, can be a deterrent at the rim. It gives Terry [Stotts] the ability to change the schemes defensively to the way he really wanted to play a year ago.
But because of our roster composition and the types of players we were playing, we were playing some guys out of position, we were playing guys so many minutes because of the bench, it put him in a tough position defensively to play the way he's most comfortable and the way we all believe in from an analytics standpoint is the right way to play.
Blazersedge: LaMarcus Aldridge said earlier this summer that he was excited to see what you would do in free agency. Has he expressed excitement to you in reaction to what you did in free agency?
I think LaMarcus is pleased. Clearly, he and Robin Lopez are represented by the same agent. They've been in contact, he was a part of the process during this. LaMarcus's key was to get a big body next to him so that he's not always thrown to the wolves during crunch time, playing the five or being guarded by fives. It was a concern for us as well. We don't want him getting beaten up and worn down at the end of every year because he's a power forward that we forced to play the five because we didn't have anybody watching his weakside and on the other block.
Bringing in somebody like Robin who knows his role, he will score with opportunity, but he's not a guy who is going to demand touches. We have enough firepower with our other four guys in the starting lineup, it's not going to affect them offensively but it's clearly going to make them all better defenders.
Blazersedge: How do you respond to reports that LaMarcus Aldridge "wants out" and has he expressed unhappiness to you?
I don't [respond]. Whatever LaMarcus's business with me, isn't the business of the media. If LaMarcus wants to talk about it with you guys, or has something to say, I'm sure he will. But LaMarcus and I keep our business private.
Blazersedge: Has he expressed a commitment to you in terms of going forward into next year?
LaMarcus and I keep our business private.
Blazersedge: Two of the trades you made involved future second-round picks. What are the specifics?
Sacramento gets the New York Knicks' 2016 second-round pick, protected to 37, from the Jared Jeffries trade. They get the right to swap second-round picks with us in 2018. New Orleans gets the rights to Jeff Withey and the cash to pay Robin Lopez's trade kicker, $1.6 million.
Thomas Robinson was traded [from Houston] for the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou, the rights to Marko Todorovic, our 2017 second-round pick, and Minnesota's 2015 second-round pick.
A transcript of Thursday's press conference is right here.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter