VIDEOS: Exit Interviews Close Door On Difficult Season
By sarahhecht Posted in: chadbuchanan, HasheemThabeet, JamalCrawford, JoelPrzybilla, kalebcanales, KurtThomas, LukeBabbitt, NicolasBatum, NolanSmith, RaymondFelton, WesleyMatthews
Today the Trail Blazes participated in annual exit interviews, a somewhat sobering period of reflection immediately after the end of the season. Usually it’s similar to the last day of school, guys signing jerseys, snapping photos and giving final high-fives prior to departing for the summer.
This year was a bit different. With the team positioned for summer of massive change during the offseason each of the guys knows this could be the final day they’re in the practice facility as teammates.
It’s been a tough year with unreached goals and missed expectations, we know that and they guys know it, but reflection is often an incredibly therapeutic tool and these interviews were exactly that.
Included are links to extended videos from most of the guys as well as those of Interim General Manager Chad Buchanan and Interim Head Coach Kaleb Canales.
Wesley Matthews on not making the playoffs
“We need to make sure that we come with the hunger and the fight next season to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’re not gonna be remotely close to being in this situation. We wanna be where we can rest guys at the end of the season and we control our own destiny.
“I don’t know what happened, but it happened and we gotta quickly try to put this behind us and look forward to next season.”
Kurt Thomas on facing an offseason of changes
“It’s part of the business. You have to always be prepared to have a change of address because GMs, they change their mind in trying to put a team together. But you go into the summer, continue to improve your game each and every day, get yourself in the best possible shape by the time training camp starts.”
Joel Przybilla on reasons for returning to Portland next season
“I had my meeting with Chad and Kaleb, I just wanna have fun and enjoy it. I told them, and granted I’ve only been here for a couple months and there was a lot of changes and a lot more downs than ups, but I still had, this was one of my most enjoyable years. It just was, I think being away from it and appreciating it and realizing, having my family and my kids growing up around it and just being around a good group of guys and an organization and a city that really cares, not only it’s players but the player’s families and things like that makes a big deal.
“I definitely would like to come back here. I gotta wait to see what the opportunities are and kinda play out like every other free agent does.”
Nicolas Batum on free agency and the Olympics
“I don’t really think about it yet. I wanna just rest a little bit and we’ll see. I wanna think about it in July or lately in June, but I don’t really think about it now. Of course I want to come back here, this team drafted me and on the court at 19 and give me my chance in NBA... They [the organization] want me in this franchise long-term... I’m sure 99 percent they’re gonna match anything.
“This will be the most exciting summer for me in my basketball career. Gonna play in the Olympics for the first time. Gonna be my dream. Got two dream in my life, that’s play in NBA and play in the Olympics so very exciting for me.”
Raymond Felton on his slow start to the season
“By far, definitely not one of my best. I will say that. But at the same time I think I finished the season strong.
“Nobody want to have a bad season, but I am human so it can happen. It happens to everybody it happens to anybody. Don’t nobody have a great year every year or start off the year the way they want to each and every time and that’s what happened to me. I started off slow this year.”
Jamal Crawford on his contract status and coming back to Portland
“I’ve thought about it, but I think I’ll think a little more about it this summer and see how things go and make my decision wisely and go from there.
“I think there’s a bright future here. It didn’t go like we wanted it to this year but things change really fast and I feel like getting things in place will definitely help attract free agents.
“I don’t think this year was any one person’s fault. I don’t think it was the players fault, I don’t think it was the coaches fault, I think it was just a bad situation, honestly. I think with the shortened training camp and then how things went, I think when we hit some bumps in the road we didn’t handle them the best way. But if you look at a team like Boston, the year before they got Ray Allen and Garnett they won I think 17 games. The fans were saying fire Doc and all that. I remember going up to talk to Doc Rivers on the court that night like ‘keep your head up,’ and the next year they won a championship. Things can change really fast, I think we have a great player in LaMarcus Aldridge and I think we have really good pieces around him, it’s just how you make those pieces fit.”
Hasheem Thabeet on offseason plans
“This summer gonna be big for me and just gotta put a lot of work in. I’m gonna be working out starting next week, so I’m excited for a great summer.
J.J. Hickson on the Trail Blazers expressing interest in him as a free agent
“Of course, but not just with this exit meeting. Since I been here they’ve thought highly of me, even when I played back in Cleveland. So it’s a matter of sitting down at the table and having that discussion and going ahead with a decision.”
Nolan Smith on being an “attacking guard”
“I think I’m an attacking guard. I think I’m at my best when attacking, looking to make plays. Whether it’s scoring or making plays for other teammates. I talked to Jamal after the game last night and he said last night I looked like I was at my best when I’m aggressive, not thinking and just playing. That’s when I’m at my best.
Luke Babbitt on confidence and summer improvement
“It helps. I know what I can do out there, I know what I need to do to be successful. So I’m gonna build off that and try to improve the areas where I wasn’t as good. Defensively, I need to work rebounding, a lot of different areas. I think I shot the three well, but I can actually be more efficient offensively too. Make players around me better.”
Interim Head Coach Kaleb Canales on his future and endorsements from the players
“I’ve been in constant communication with out management. I am a Portland Trail Blazer and I’ll always be a Portland Trail Blazer. And again, I just cannot thank the fans enough for embracing our team through the challenging time and embracing me personally here in Portland.
“It’s very humbling and I’m very appreciative of it. And like I told them today in the meeting, I’m appreciative of them busting their tails to finish out the year.”
Interim General Manager Chad Buchanan on offseason priorities
“Looking forward we have some positions we know we have to fill. The point guard and center, starting point guard and starting center are the two most important areas for us to address. You can always add depth at every position, which is going to be critical for us, but the good thing is we’re not trapped into the corner with our team and our roster. We’ve given ourselves some flexibility heading into this offseason, both with the draft and through free agency to try to address some of the areas that we gotta address and we’ve got some holes we’ve gotta fill. There’s no doubt about it and I think those are the two most important holes.”