Transcript: Paul Allen On First Day Of Training Camp
Team owner Paul Allen was in attendance for the first day of practice at the team's facility in Tualatin. Allen talked about the team's prospects for the 2013-14 season, improving defensively, the performance of general manager Neil Olshey, what he's most looking forward to, selling the naming rights to the Moda Center, team stability and the success of his other professional sports franchise, the Seattle Seahawks.
Impressions on the first workout?
Great energy. I loved to see the emphasis on defense. That's kind of been my mantra over these last few years. I think it's going to be a lot of emphasis on that this season.
Are you thinking Playoffs Or Bust this year?
I wouldn't put it that way but I think … I talked to Neil right after the last game of the season and we made a conscious decision and had a lot of determination to improve the team. So we've brought a blend of veterans in and draft picks and so definitely we've got so much more depth this year, so much more talent one through 12 to complement our starters from last year. So we're in a much-improved place.
How would you rate the job Neil Olshey has done since being hired?
I think Neil and the scouts have done a great job improving the talent. Now it's the coaches turn to take that talent and see how far we can go. So see how these guys blend in the preseason and how the young guys develop, how the veterans filled in, there's going to be a lot of great stories this year.
How sold were you on selling the arena naming rights?
Well thats something we talked about from time to time over the years. Since I came up with the Rose Garden name it was a tiny bit painful but these are the things you have to do to put your team on firm financial footing. The increased revenue we got there that's equivalent to a significant player in terms of revenue. That's kind of how I think about it, it's all about getting us to even firmer financial footing.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
Just what I said, seeing all the new players blend in, seeing the defense improve and of course I think that's going to translate into many more wins than we had last year but I'm not going to try to predict how many.
You kind of hit the reset button with a new coach, new president, new GM. How do you feel the transition has gone? Has it gone the way you wanted it to?
Basically I think there were some somewhat discouraging, if you were the owner, somewhat discouraging times there and you have to bear down and say 'Okay, we're going to need to make some changes. We're going to have to bring in a new GM, make a coaching change' and so forth, executive changes. And that's all come together but you need to see the full fruits of doing that. Obviously we had some successes in Seattle making wholesale changes and now we need to see how that's going to evolve in Portland, but I'm very optimistic.
Do you have specific benchmarks for what will be a successful season?
I don't because there are so many things that can intervene and change things. Whether that's injuries as we've seen. We've just been plague by injury problems. I hate to even bring it up, but things like that. And you don't know how other teams are going to perform in your conference, too. But I think we're going to be in the mix for a playoff spot, but other than that I can't predict.
You mentioned you don't want to pay the luxury tax unless your contending. Is that still your philosophy?
We've basically made the moves for this season. Free agents are all signed or they're playing overseas or their with new teams, so this is our team. Not to say something couldn't happen during the season but I'm really not expecting it. But things can always change and evolve. I don't think considerations about the luxury tax is something I'm thinking about.
Are things as stable with the franchise as they've been in quiet a while?
Yes. I think we've turned the page and we're in the new era here and we've got some of our veterans like Nic and LA and Wes that joined us before. And obviously you know Damian, I think we all believe he's going to continue to grow. And then we've got new players like Dorrel and Robin and Mo that have just tons of experience. So you blend that experience with the talent we already have and draft picks like CJ McCollum. I mean, it's going to be super interesting to see how the season evolves and I hope the fans are as excited as I am.
How excited are you about the Seahawks?
4-0, that's the first time it's ever happened. It's amazing. We have such a resilient team and it's special to be around them. I'm just so happy for the fans and the players and the coaches in Seattle.