Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey hosted a press conference immediately following the NBA draft. Olshey defended Portland's recent roster moves and refused to entertain any questions about free agency.
Olshey began by strongly denying the reports that LaMarcus Aldridge has informed the team of his decision. He claimed he speaks with Aldridge frequently, and remains intent to compete for his services. He did acknowledge that they expect a robust market and refused to answer any additional topics about the subject. You can read more about his defense in this post.
Next, Olshey addressed trading Nicolas Batum to the Charlotte Hornets for Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh. He stated the team's first choice was to use Batum to move up into the middle of the lottery, but they were unable to find a workable deal. They claim Noah Vonleh would have gone in the mid-lottery had he been in this years draft and love him as a prospect. Olshey also called Henderson a rotation player, and thought he would increase the team's athleticism.
We analyzed the trade with Charlotte yesterday arguing it raised more questions than answers.
The trade with the Brooklyn Nets was presented in a similar way. Olshey stated that they liked that trade in a vacuum, and it was no indication on the free agency status of either LaMarcus Aldridge or Robin Lopez. While they liked Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, they preferred Mason Plumlee and his ability to impact a game right away. Olshey called him a dynamic young center. He also praised Pat Connaughton, his athleticism, and his shooting ability.
"We love Rondae and if a deal wasn't there, we'd love to have him." — Neil Olshey on trade for Plumlee/Connaughton— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) June 26, 2015
He also confirmed Noah Vonleh and Pat Connaughton will be on the Blazers summer league team.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) June 26, 2015
The final transaction of the evening was selecting Daniel Diaz with a second round pick. Olshey deferred questions about Diaz's game to his international scout, Lojze Milosavljevic, but stated they liked his toughness and shooting ability. He indicated it was still undecided when Diaz would come over to play for the Blazers, but that it was possible it would happen next season.
"He was very high on our international board" - Neil Olshey on Daniel Diez— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) June 26, 2015
Olshey closed the press conference by complimenting Steve Blake as a player and person, explaining he was included simply to make the math work. He also credited his staff members by name, claiming they deserve just as much credit for the team's moves as he does.
Olshey handled the entire press conference with an intense demeanor and was more combative with the media than usual. He left the impression that they really liked the young players they received, consider the past 48 hours a success, and are moving forward with their plans in free agency.
Olshey says trades the last two days "in no way indicates anything that may or may not go on July 1st."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) June 26, 2015
Video highlights of tonight's press conference can be found via Jabari Young at Comcast SportsNet Northwest, and can be heard in its entirety at Soundcloud thanks to the Blazers' Casey Holdahl.