Transcript: Chad Buchanan On Jamal Crawford, Brandon Roy
Today interim general manager Chad Buchanan addressed the media at the practice facility after the Trail Blazers used the amnesty clause on Brandon Roy, which allowed the team to sign free agent Jamal Crawford. This is what Buchanan had to say about adding Crawford, the decision to amnesty Roy and the roster going into the 2011-12 season.
"A lot of our players have relationships with Jamal and are excited to have him. I'd like to thank our fans, also, so the twitter campaign, helping us get Jamal because I know that meant a lot to Jamal. In speaking with him yesterday and today, he's very excited to be a Trail Blazer and I think he's going to be a fantastic addition for us."
Is the team done adding to the roster? (Note: a few hours later, the team announced that they had signed Craig Smith)
"Right now we have 15 contracts if you include Chris Johnson and Earl Barron, who are on conditional guarantees, but we are weighing our options at this point if we want to add another player. We're kind of looking out there seeing if anything makes sense. But there is a possibility that we, if something we feel can improve our team is out there then we'll look at it."
How do you evaluate the roster right now?
"Obviously we added a little depth with Jamal. From watching a little bit of practice that I have been able to see, and mostly in talking with Nate, he really likes the chemistry of our team right now. I think we've got some guys who are hungry. Guys are focused right now. We've had a really good couple days of practice this week. I think we still have some young players who are going to have to step up for us. Jamal has some versatility in playing both the two and the one, which, with his experience, is going to be a nice addition for us. But at the end of the day, 66 games in 123 days I believe, every player is going to have to contribute, and having as much depth as you can, especially in a season like this, is critical. That's why I feel like adding Jamal was an important move for us from that regard. I think we got some toughness on our team this year. I think that's going to be the identity of our team. We've got tough, hungry guys. They're going to play the right way, they're going to play hard, they're going to play together. I think that's ultimately what is going to be our identity this year, which kind of reflects upon Nate and his personality."
After Brandon retired, did Jamal become your top target?
"A week ago we were under the assumption that Brandon was going to be playing with us this year. Obviously we looked at the free agent market pretty extensively. During the lockout we had a lot of time to review those things. Jamal was a guy that we targeted that was probably going to be out of of what we had to offer, out of that range. I think our location appealed to Jamal. This relationship with Nate, his relationship with our players and just the opportunity to come in and play, compete on our team was appealing to him. I know he spoke with numerous members of our team the last few days and spoke with Brandon as well. I know Brandon is really happy for Jamal. Losing Brandon, you've got to find something to plug in at that position. I think thats a pretty darn good player to be plugging in there."
Have you talked to Brandon?
"I've been corresponding with Brandon via text for the last couple days and I've spoken to his agent on numerous occasions. They've handled everything in a first-class manner. It's been obviously difficult on their end as well, but they've handled it very well. And Brandon obviously has some piece of mind now. He knows that this decision on our end will help the team in the short-term and the long-term by allowing us to add a player of Jamal's caliber to the team."
Did you feel like you had to recruit him throughout this process?
"I think Jamal wanted to gather as much information as he could, which he should do. From a basketball standpoint to the location standpoint to the coaching, he examined it all extensively, as you know. I think up until this morning, we had an idea that he might be leaning one way or another, but until he makes a decision, you don't really know. For Jamal to be, he's at a point in his career where he's made a fair amount of money, he's had a lot of success and if he wants to be in a situation where he has a chance to succeed and be on a team that has a chance to succeed, I think that was ultimately the most important thing for him at the end of the day."
Expect him to sign tomorrow?
"Tomorrow is what the plan is. He'll be arriving tonight. He's up in Seattle, he'll be driving down tonight."
Can you explain why the team decided to use the amnesty clause on Roy rather than the injured player exception?
"I think the amnesty route provides us with, in the short-term, allows you to help your team out immediately. In that regard, you can add a player to replace where Brandon was at. Long-term it obviously helps us with luxury tax implications. Short-term as well. I think when you weight short-term versus long-term, you've got to look at both of it, but we felt like the amnesty route provided relief in both regards."
Can you still get the medical hardship exception?
"No. If we would have kept (Roy) on the career-ending injury path we would have had the medical exception. Now that he's amnestied we had the full midlevel."
It would have taken some time to get that?
"There were a couple of steps to it. We already started that process in case that was the route we ended up going. Obviously going the amnesty route, you don't need to finish up that process."
And that protects you if Brandon decided to come back?
"Yes, that's correct. He is now off our cap and off the tax forever now."
Did you start to get nervous as the other free agents were signing?
"We've hung in there with those guys from the very first day. It's been a long two weeks, a lot of discussions with a lot of agents. I think a lot of free agents out there realize what we have to offer. They know we have great fans, we have a great coach, we're a competitive team and I think they come through here, they play in the Rose Garden and know what our environment is like, and that appeals to guys. That allowed us to stay in there, for the most part, fight till the very end of several guys. Jamal was a guy we stayed with closely, just holding out hope that we might have an opportunity to get that guy. At the time when we started we had Brandon on the roster so we felt like it's a real long shot. Fortunately we had been in there early with Jamal that when Brandon did decide to step away from the game that we were alive with Jamal."
Can you elaborate on Brandon coming back and working with the organization?
"We've talked with Brandon's representatives that he'll always be a Trail Blazer. If there's any role that he wanted to take on moving forward, we would love to have him in any capacity, whether it's coach or a scout or acting GM, whatever. There's always going to be a place for Brandon with this organization. I think Brandon is very appreciative of that and I think, at some point, he'll probably consider looking into all of his options and what he wants to do now that he's done playing. We just want to make sure he always knows he has a home with us."
Any internal discussions about retiring his jersey?
"We have not talked about that yet. Just trying to get through getting our team put together, but I would think he's obviously a pretty strong candidate for something like that down the road."
How much do you think players and fans recruiting Crawford over social media helped with his decision?
"I was giving him a hard time today, I was like 'Man, it's like recruiting you like back in my college coaching days having to recruit you.' Jamal, as you guys may know if you know him at all, he's got a really engaging personality, great, great human being. He like that attention that he was getting from our fans and the media. It made him feel like he was wanted here and this was the spot for him. I think that ultimately weighed on him. In talking to him today I said 'Our coaches, our players, our entire organization is excited to have you.' And he's like 'And the fans, too! I've been hearing from all these fans. I can not wait to get down there.' So it definitely weighed on Jamal and we're very appreciative that our fans are as passionate as they are to go that extra mile and do that, because that doesn't take place in many NBA cities."
Do you expect Jamal to be at Fan Fest?
"I would think so. He's planning on coming down tonight. Obviously he'll have to go through the physical and the actual signing of his contract before it's technically an official transaction, but he's going to be here tonight and I think you'll see him tomorrow."
What are you expectations for the season now with this roster?
"I think this hopefully solidifies us as a team that can be a playoff team, number one, and be a really tough out in the playoffs. It's too hard to project where you're going to be because you've got a lot of variables that you can't predict, obviously as we've seen with our team with injuries, but I think if we're healthy that we're going to be a pretty tough team come playoff time. Long schedule, short amount of time, it's going to be something every team is going to have to get through. I feel like, I go back to the grittiness and toughness of a lot of our players is going to help us get through that grind this year. I feel really good about our team. I know Nate does as well. Our team is ready to play. Obviously at the start of the season you're going to have some ugly basketball at times, but our guys are hungry and they feel like the national media has kind of overlooked us. That's fine with us. We've always been about, Nate's style is just go play and let your game speak for itself. I think that's the mindset of our guys right now. They're hungry and I expect us to have a very competitive season."
Feel like the team is stronger than they were last year?
"It's tough to say. We're a little different. Obviously we're going to have a little different, probably, pace to how we play. Andre and Brandon were more halfcourt-style players. With Raymond and now Jamal, adding Gerald at the end of the year, I think we'll probably play a little different tempo. It's tough to say. I thought we had a heck of a team last year and I expect us to be right in that mix again this year."
Any update on Greg Oden?
"Nothing new with Greg. Still proceeding with his recover and his rehab. He's been out on the court doing some light skill work. He's continuing with his recover in that regard."
Does it make you feel better about Crawford coming to Portland considering that he reportedly took less money?
"Definitely. When we look at free agents, when we look at the draft, having a player tell you 'I want to be here' is important. It weighs a lot for us, and Jamal was like that from the very beginning. Obviously a guy sacrificing that kind of money tells you a lot about his character and what he's about. When you have guys who want to be here and have two feet in, that's what you want, and the more of those guys you can get on your team, the better. I feel like we have that with our roster right now. Our guys are going to welcome Jamal, from top to bottom. They obviously spent a lot of time recruiting him as well. I think having people who want to be here because Jamal recognizes what we offer from our team to our coach to our fans, the city. Obviously he's got a little extra appreciation of what the Blazers organization is about than your typical free agent might have, so that defiately weighed on us as well. You want a guy who wants to be here, and Jamal wants to be a Trail Blazer."
Has he given any indication about his long-term plans?
"I think Jamal wants to be in a place where he's happy and succeeding on the basketball court. Hopefully we see that from him this year. We hope this can be a long-term thing with Jamal, being in a Blazers uniform."
Being in an interim GM role, how gratifying is it for you to get this deal done?
Well first off, it's been a total team effort. As I mentioned before, from our staff, from Mike Born, Bill Branch, Steve Rosenberry, Joe Cronin, a couple other guys, Sean Kiely, Ben Faulk. We've been cooped up in that conference room for … I don't even know what day it is today if you asked me. But it is rewarding to come through with a player that you've added of the quality of Jamal. We go back to the character of our players, that's important to us. Always has been and Jamal fits that. So it's rewarding from that regard but ultimately you want to see your team do well and anything you can do to help that team succeed is going to feel good. I think we're in a position to have a pretty good year.