On a special episode on the eve of Opening Night in the NBA, hosts Danny Marang and Brandon Sprague are joined by Portland Trail Blazers GM Joe Cronin for an exclusive interview.
With breaking news of an unexpected extension for 4th year forward Nassir Little, Cronin is asked how the deal came together, his relationship with Little and what it means for the organization going forward.
From there it’s time to dig into the product on the floor... Cronin was asked about where the team is now, setting the tone and what the evaluation process looks like on this team through the first 20 games and here’s a snippet of what he had to say:
“Our perspective is just, we’re building here. We have a goal that we’re trying to achieve - we’re trying to, play Chauncey’s brand of ball which for us you know, will involve some patience for us and some rewiring for some players and just stylistically these guys figuring out how to play together.
I think it’s easy for some guys to be able to say this but I do think we mean this... We’re not fixated on outcomes right now - I mean, we want to win and we’re very competitive - just as people and our roster is as well, but we want to see growth and we want to see us winning ball games the right way. So our goal is to be patient. I’ve said a lot publicly that we have a ways to go still and we all know that - but at the same time we like where we are. I’m just probably a more of positive than a negative person by nature and I’m looking at the positives that we’ve seen and there’s a lot of them.”
From there it’s time to dig into the product on the floor, particularly how the Blazers have looked during the preseason so far the reactions around the fanbase. Cronin was asked about how he gauges the preseason, how much he takes into account practice & development behind the scenes vs what happens on the floor.
“Generally speaking I try not to put too much weight into preseason, specifically around wins and losses because teams might clear their bench at given times and all of that, but I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t paying attention to the quality of play during those preseason games there were certain things I wanted to see.”
“I wanted to see us defend at a higher level. See us be productive offensively and play with some pace and there were some certain games where that didn’t happen. And I definitely discount it to an extent that yes, it was a preseason game and yes this group hasn’t played together a lot and it’s going to take some time to figure their stuff out. But - I think it’s just natural when you’re watching and you see things that aren’t necessarily clicking, can be alarming and you wonder, is it this game or is this how we are? How far away are we from where we want to be?”
Questions about how and what choices were made to run and build a team around Damian Lillard at the same time as developing around “the rails of Shaedon Sharpe, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and other younger players,” the development of Shaedon Sharpe, and knowing where players abilities and coaching desires might not always line up and how to manage that.
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