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Portland Trail Blazers Hold Press Conference to Explain Free Agency

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General Manager Neil Olshey explains Portland's moves and non-moves to the public.

Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey gave a press conference this morning, his first after the end of the July Moratorium during which free agent contracts can be discussed informally, but not agreed upon or signed. The Trail Blazers gave up LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, and Arron Afflalo in free agency. With the gag order on NBA officials lifted, Olshey stepped to the podium to explain the strategy and answer questions.

He began by explaining why the team is rebuilding.

He made reference to the importance of Aldridge as the cornerstone of the former roster.

And explained further that as Aldridge went, so would the remainder of the free agent starters.

Olshey continued by extolling the virtue of Portland's near $29 million cap space potential...

...and underlined the potential for imbalanced trades the space provides.

He assured listeners that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was on board with the team's new direction:

Then Olshey circled back to Aldridge and his big decision.

And the lengths he went to to make Aldridge feel included:

He also explained why trading Aldridge wasn't an option, returning to the matter several times throughout the speech.

Nor was a sign-and-trade.

Then Olshey moved along to discussion of the new roster.

He confirmed Damian Lillard as the new centerpiece.

He spoke on the evolution of CJ McCollum as part of that roster:

And Lillard's leadership, making clear what the hope spot is in this story:

Despite the rebuild label, Olshey bristled at the suggestion that the Blazers were tanking.

And mused about the future:

On free agents coming to Portland:

On firing Assistant Coach Kim Hughes:

The assembled media appeared to approve of the conference.

Damian Lillard was scheduled to speak after Olshey finished. plus Coach Stotts and the introduction of the newest Trail Blazers. We will have that for you in a few minutes.