We're closing on a big time for the Trail Blazers, as you know. Along with Summer League, the NBA Draft is one of the more vital times for any NBA team. Some teams build through free agency, and even though the Blazers have also used that time to benefit the roster, they've really made their mark during draft time.
Now then, so far this off-season, the news you've been reading about hasn't really involved much of the draft. With one eye you have, perhaps, been following the speculation and news about the pre-draft process. But, I realize there have been other issues you've probably seen as much more pressing.
The situation, as it relates to Kevin Pritchard's status as general manager, has grabbed the attention of local and national writers, and has resulted in wild speculation, conspiracy theories, and a number of conclusions (even if it's meant jumping the gun). It's not a comfortable situation, so I'm not going to try and sell it as if you should be ignoring absolutely everything you read. But, don't let anyone tell you they've got this all figured out, because they don't. I'm more certain of that now than ever before.
While drowning in this sea of information, reports, and quotes from the famous "unnamed source," I usually try and force myself to go back to level ground. That being, what do we actually know? What's being said by those who truly have their finger on the pulse of this situation? Steer clear of Mr. Unnamed Source, who's got an agenda. He always does. Everyone does. Writers, bloggers, agents, other team executives, everyone. The people who are the best at their craft will take you for a heck of a ride. I'm not criticizing them, it just is what it is. Fans, like you, are caught in the middle of fact and total fiction.
The highest I can go, to get you the clearest take on what exactly is the case, is right down the hall in our Rose Garden offices. I popped into president Larry Miller's office and asked if I could do a Q and A for this blog. So, here we go.
MB: What's the biggest message you want to get across to fans right now?
Miller: Basically that nothing has been decided at this point. The process is continuing. As I've said time and time again, Paul's objective is to bring a championship to Portland. Every decision he's made has been focused on that. That may sound like straight P.R., but it's true. Paul has put his resources out there, and everyone knows he's emotionally tied to this team. It's always been that way.
MB: So, what's happening now, even though it's being played out so publicly, is pretty much business as usual?
Miller: It is. I realize this is very, very public. I also know it can be an uncomfortable time. But, the reality is, this process happens every single year, to every executive. From the beginning we knew there wouldn't really be a timeline on this. There never really is. When I worked at Nike, we did things the same way. People are evaluated. Sometimes the relationship continues, and sometimes it ends. That's why the process exists. I'm not saying I expect things to work the exact same way with this company, but the only real difference is everything thing is so public. It's very unique, and I get that. No one else has to talk about stuff like this. In a situation like this, the details of a process aren't ever discussed. But, I can say that people shouldn't jump to any conclusions based on speculation.
MB: So, the people who say there's been a decision made are wrong?
Miller: Nothing has been decided at this point. I can tell you that.
MB: This story has taken on a life of its own, as you know. There are so many different opinions on what's going on, and there a lot of people being quoted as "unnamed league sources."
Miller: Honestly, I tend to not even read that stuff. I only hear about it from people who read it. I try not to read it. For me, it's just speculation. Someone thinking they know what's going on. Believe me, the majority of this stuff is just absolutely unfounded and untrue.
MB: Some have talked of a "power struggle" or that you have designs on being general manager.
Miller: Absolutely untrue. I don't want to be GM here. From my perspective, KP and I have a great relationship. We talk all the time, and we work together all the time. There has never been a power struggle. I can't imagine a better relationship between a team president and a general manager. We need to be focused on what the reality is here- we're focused on what's best for this team.
MB: Is this impacting the preparation for the draft?
Miller: Not at all. That's where we're focused right now. That's where we should be focused. Kevin has been at workouts, both here and around the country. Chad (Buchanan) and Mike (Born) are in Europe right now evaluating players. That's what we're all doing right now. We're talking daily about how we can make our team better, and how we can have the best possible draft.
MB: So, inside these walls your eyes are on the ball?
Miller: Our eyes are on the ball. People may not believe me, but we haven't been distracted. These guys are professionals, Kevin and his staff. Those guys are doing their jobs the way they always have at this time of the year. We have great conversations on the draft, what's ahead, and how we can be better.
MB: Fans always ask me when things will be resolved.
Miller: Again, there's never been a timeline. Once we do get through this process, we need to focus on this team moving forward. As a team, as fans, as a community, focus on moving forward. We haven't lost our focus, I can tell you that. It's about getting our guys healthy, ready, and moving forward.
MB: Anything else?
Miller: This is challenging. I get that. Going through stuff like this isn't easy. Part of this business is evaluating where you are at all times. The fact that this situation, as it relates to Kevin, is public, makes it a much bigger challenge. But, it's business as usual. It may not seem that way. It's hard for me, but I know it's much more difficult for Kevin. He's a friend. I know it's tough for him. But, he's a pro, and he's just preparing for the draft.