Apr 23

Video/Transcript: Stotts And Olshey, 'We are going to accelerate this and get the best team on the floor possible'

By sarahhecht Posted in: neilolshey, terrystotts

Last Thursday morning, following the Trail Blazers' final game of the 2012-12 season, General Manager Neil Olshey, Head Coach Terry Stotts and other members of the team participated in exit interviews with the media. Here's full video of their joint session and a transcript. Check out for a full archive of interviews with every player.

Olshey opening remarks/jokes
“First I want to make sure that you’re all very impressed that I’m very “Portlandia” now, no suit and tie, I just have a golf shirt on, I’m very relaxed, Terry and I have been munching on granola all day, we’re going hiking later, perfect.

Olshey on waiving Jared Jeffries
“Yeah, I mean look, Jared was well aware we were always going to have to waive him. He was part of a sign-and-trade where we had to do a minimum of three years. His second year would’ve been guaranteed within five days after the end of the season, so we felt it appropriate to handle it while he was here. It was a player we were going to have to renounce anyway to create the maximum amount of cap room. And like we told Jared, we’ll look into it again at the end of the summer, if we have a need, if he doesn’t have a job, it’s something we can discuss, but right now, where with organization is going we need every ounce of cap room we can get to create the best roster possible.”

Olshey on the season
“Well, if it was a 69 game season I’d be ecstatic, so would Terry. I thought it was a really successful season. We had a lot of goals when we came into this year, we had a lot of holes in the roster. This year there was no GM, there was no coach, there was no president, or a different president, we didn’t have a point guard, we weren't sure if Nic Batum was going to be back, we didn’t know if LaMarcus could be an All-Star in a different system and all of those things have been answered. One of the things that we did all year was compete, we played a fun style of basketball, a style that other players around the league are starting to identify as a system they’d like to play in. It was free-flowing, it maximized the skill set of our players. I think the assistant coaches did a great job with player development, all of our young guys are better today than they were back in October, they’re quickly becoming assets around this league. And we still have a lot of questions to answer, but we weren’t going to answer them all in one offseason which is why we maintained maximum flexibility. So we sit here today with the franchise point guard we talked about on draft night ten months ago, LA is still an All-Star, Nic Batum is playing at a high level, Wes had another really good year, we have a potential big in Meyers Leonard, we filled another hole with Eric Maynor at the trade deadline and now we sit here with $11.6 million dollars in cap room, we have the room mid-level, we’ve got the 10th pick, the 39th pick, the 40th pick and the 45th pick in the draft so we’ve got a lot of deal-making tools on top of the rights to Kostas Papanikolaou and we’re going to be incredibly aggressive over the next two months building the roster.”

Olshey on the most important issue to address this offseason
“It’s obvious. We had a tough time protecting the rim, we had a tough time giving up points in the paint and that’s not an indictment of JJ Hickson, we asked a 6-9 power forward to play center every night in a league against the Marc Gasols and Roy Hibberts and Dwight Howards, etc. Even last night, Andrew Bogut, so JJ performed admirably, but obviously that is a hole we need to shore up. We’ve got to get our interior defense better whether it’s via draft, trade or free agency to make sure that’s not a hole Terry walks into next training camp having to address.”

Stotts on the season
“It was enjoyable.Young teams are usually pretty enjoyable and I take away, when you have success that’s the first half of the season, the wins that we had against quality opponents, particularly here at home, we won so many close games. And really that was the difference in our season, the first half of the season we won and inordinate amount of close games and the second half we didn’t, but it was exciting to see the growth the young players, as a coach. You like to see the growth and development as a team and as individuals and from my standpoint I thought we got to see both of those. The 13-game losing streak notwithstanding, and even that was a positive in some ways, it was very enjoyable. And like I said, the group of guys that Neil put together were high-character guys, the young guys worked extremely hard to improve and the older guys accepted their roles and mentored the young guys so it was in a lot of ways very rewarding.”

Olshey on the 2013 draft class
“Well, I have to talk in generalities, I can’t talk about specific players, but there’s an old saying, ‘there’s no bad drafts there’s only bad drafters,’ and I think that if you do your job you need to find value. No where that value lies, the 10th pick in this draft may not be relative to the 10th pick in a different draft, but I think something everybody has got to start realizing is the depth of drafts has changed for a multitude of reasons. We don’t have high school guys in anymore, you used to add five or six lottery picks that pushed guys down later in the lottery. The European market has been fished out a little bit, you don’t have the magnitude of guys entering the draft going that high in the draft and then you have some guys making decisions to stay in school, which I think is admirable. At the end of the day draft is a player acquisition vehicle and if the best player we can get is somebody we’re going to get via draft we’re going to draft, if the best player we can get is by moving that pick, using our cap room or other assets that we have to acquire the better players, we are going to accelerate this and get the best team on the floor possible. When the draft nets Damian Lillard you draft, if the draft is going to net a role player but using that pick in a deal is going to get you a rotation player or a starter you put the pick in play and these are things that we’re evaluating right now and I love this. This is where Paul (Allen) and I have a great synergy, nothing is more enjoyable to me than the next two months leading up to the draft in this business and I just love it. I’m on a plane Monday morning to Croatia and Cholet, France looking at a couple of prospects over there. We’ve been meeting all week, we’ve been evaluating guys in the Hoop Summit that are draft eligible and it’s a great process. If you do you due diligence and you approach it with the right mindset you should come out of it with a roster that has been accelerated due to increasing the talent base.”

Olshey on collaboration with Stotts during the season
“Myself, Paul, everyone in the organization owes a debt of gratitude to Terry because there are a lot of coaches that are resistant to playing younger guys over veterans and I think Terry saw that there was a bigger picture at stake, there’s a process at stake here and winning two or three more games late in the season wasn’t as valuable as getting a baseline for these young guys where they can go into the offseason knowing they got an opportunity, but also getting a reality check about what it takes to be a productive player in this league. And I think Terry giving them that opportunity is unique in this league and I think if you look around, not every coach that had been eliminated from the playoffs was willing to put their win/loss record on line by playing younger players that would give them less of a chance to win games and he did that for us and that’s where that partnership comes in. So now my partnership comes in by trying to get him a better, deeper, more talented roster for next October.”

Olshey on if this offseason can catapult the Trail Blazers to the playoffs
“Thirteen games ago we were a playoff contender and that was with what you guys have described as the least/worst productive bench in the league and a rookie point guard and other issues. I’d like to think that with $12 million dollars in cap room and a lottery pick and the other tools we have at our disposal and a motivated, aggressive owner, we are going to be a much more competitive team. And I think one of the things that’s gone unnoticed is how good of a job Terry did relative to the expectation level. A lot of people thought we we’re a 33-34 win team overall and at 100-percent health I think we far exceed that. Look, we hit a bump in a log where we hit a big weekend with Utah, Golden, Utah, which could’ve swung it in our favor and bad timing between Nic (Batum), Wes (Matthews) and LaMarcus (Aldridge) all getting hurt. I think we were close this year, but we’re going to have to be aggressive. Minnesota’s going to be a better team next year, they;re going to be healthy, you expect other teams, you expect the Lakers to come up from behind and we’re going to have to be really aggressive in building the roster, but I think that there’s a good foundation. I think the toughest thing to find is a point guard and I think we can all agree in here that we found one and now we need to support and build the starting center position and the depth between players six through ten.”

Olshey on Aldridge’s comment about “making noise” in the playoffs
“I think “making noise,” it’s speculative. I think we came off, when I was with the Clippers, we came off a 32-win season and if everybody would’ve said we were in the western conference semi-finals it would’ve been looked at as folly. But multiple transactions, trades, amnesty claims, minimum contracts to the right guys, drafting properly resulted in what you see now as the fourth seed in the playoffs. Id on’t think you can speculate today because I don’t know what free agency’s going to bring, I don’t know what the draft’s going to bring, I don’t know what trades are going to bring, but I know we’re going to do everything we can to build the roster. To sit here and put an artificial expectation on what a roster may or may not be when you’ve only got eight returning players and you haven’t drafted yet or gone into free agency doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I do know that from LA’s perspective we talked and he knows we’re going to be aggressive in building the roster and I’d like to think that the improvement of the guys that are already here, on top of the guys that we’re going to bring in, will make us a factor faster rather than later.”

Olshey on using players to help woo free agents
“Max contracts to max players is always a good idea (laughs). It is big, guys want to play with guys they know are about the same stuff and that are trying to win. The best voice for your organization is your players, how they’re treated, the resources they have, how they’re coached, how they prepare for games, how aggressive the front office is, how invested the owner is and I think all of those things LaMarcus has a larger sample size than anyone in the organization, he’s been here the longest. And I think he knows that Paul is going to drive anybody that works for him to build this as quickly as possible and if LaMarcus can embrace and endorse what we’re doing there’s more credibility there sometimes than what a general manager who’s recruiting, or a coach or his agent who’s negotiating the deal will have on a player-to-player level. And I think that the stronger advocates that guys like Damian and LaMarcus and Nic  can be for us, the easier free agent recruitment will be.”

Olshey on what he’s looking for to fill out the roster
“This roster isn’t talented enough. We’re not talented enough, we don’t have a deep enough talent base and that’s what we need to rebuild. It takes talent to win in this league and getting position specific, having  lesser two versus having a more talented three doesn’t make any sense. What we need to do is have a complete starting lineup, which is why we didn’t build the bench before we had our starting lineup, and we need our depth that are guys that are capable of impacting an NBA game, regardless of position. You put your five best players on the floor and you come off the bench, Terry can talk to this better than I can, with your next best players. And whether you mix and match with multiple guys at each spot doesn’t matter, there are teams in this league playing three point guards at once. It doesn’t matter as long as they’re more talented than the guys they’re going up against.”

Olshey on tendering Eric Maynor a qualifying offer
“I think it’s more strategic than complex. Clearly, Eric has a very significant cap hold. It’s something we’ve talked to him about there. We really like Eric, we made the move because we wanted him to be a part of our future, but there are realities to how strategically we can maximize the amount of room we have, the mini-midlevel that we have and the draft pick and who knows, our roster may look far different come July 1st that it does now, which can affect what we do as well. So Eric, Andy Miller (Maynor’s agent), everybody knows that we’re going to maximize every tool we have knowing that we’re taking into consideration wanting Eric to be back with us.”

Olshey on if exit interviews influence free agency decisions
“We’re with these guys everyday. I don’t think anything you’re going to find out in an exit meeting revolutionary. I think it’s more about Terry’s plan for their development, when we want them back, what we expect of them for the offseason, what their offseason plans are, how we can facilitate things for them in terms of getting them resources in terms of coaches, in terms of strength and conditioning guys to get them to go workout with them. I think that’s what it’s more about, it’s not to identify whether or not they want to be back or not, that’s a discussion for myself and their agents.”

Stotts on if he discusses offseason development more with younger players than veterans
“Yes and no. I spoke with LaMarcus about how I think he can improve in areas that, as good as he is, there are things that he can work on and certainly the younger guys have more to work on than the older guys, but I think we’ve gotten to the point where everybody needs to work in the summer to improve their games and everybody has different strengths and weaknesses to work on. So yeah, they younger guys have more things to work on and we’ll probably spend more time with them over the summer.”

Stotts on development of the the “core four”
“I don’t want to go into specifics about each guy. Like I said, as good as LaMarcus is, he can improve on the right block and free throw area and Wes can improve his pick-and-roll game and Nic can become even better in all the different areas because he’s so capable of being very good in a lot of different areas, Damian, as good a year as he had, he can become better in the midrange game and more creative passing and things like that, so we touched on a lot of things with a lot of the different players top to bottom.”

Stotts on how it feels to see improvement in guys
“It’s rewarding. You look at a guy like Will (Barton) who didn’t get much of a chance and then he comes in the last couple weeks and just plays the game and played a little more under control, for Will, and he was very effective. And Meyers (Leonard) made strides and Joel got off to a slow start this season and all the work that he did, you saw last night how he’s come along. So as I mentioned earlier, as a coach you want to see the team grow and the individuals grow and I think we got to see that.”

Olshey on the significance of moving from the projected 12th to 10th pick in the draft
“Anytime you have more assets the better off you’re going to be in terms of deal-making flexibility. You want to be as high as possible, anything that pick has more value not only to us but to other teams around the league, it give us a little bit more leverage in terms of deals. Ostensibly what you’re saying is there are two more players available that wouldn’t have been a week ago. That not only helps us in terms of the depth that we’re looking at to evaluate, it puts you into a position where maybe a tier above where you’re selecting, maybe he slips, maybe a guys gets to you at ten that wouldn’t have got to you at 12 or a guy is slipping that somebody else values enough where if we can gt a veteran guy in here using our room and the draft pick. So it is significant, I think that when you look at Golden State, last night, they’re a perfect example and I think we all witnessed it last night and if they end up 8th last year that pick is in Utah, if they end up 7th it’s a coin flip and their starting small forward on a playoff team is a guy they would not have been able to get. So you just don’t know how it’s going to play out of draft night, but I know that we’re in a better position today than we would’ve been at 12.”

Olshey on the kind of jump he wants the team to make this upcoming season
“Well we’re two years away from being a playoff factor apparently (laughs), from “making noise” in the playoffs. I don’t know. We want to make as significant a jump as possible, but at the end of the day, like I said, ask me on Jump 15th. Ask me when we’ve had a draft, ask me when we’ve been through free agency, when every team in the league can make, I mean there’s only 14 teams right now that can even make a trade today. So ask me then, but ask me about how aggressive we’re going to be: very aggressive. The last thing Paul said to me last night when we walked off the court, to show how empathetic he is to Terry and the players that are out there competing, was “Promise me we’re going to be more competitive next year” and I said we are. And he didn’t mean on the court, he meant in terms of our talent base and our ability to compete. But I think what Paul said what that when you look at these guys like Damian and Will and LaMarcus and the guys who were playing last night competing their tails off and they just didn’t have enough to get it done night in and night out in this league over the last 15 games once we were short-handed, and by the way played which has gone unnoticed because everybody points to the injuries, but we played the toughest schedule in the NBA the last 15 games of the year. I think the only non-playoff team we played was the Dallas Mavericks and Utah, so that has to be taken into consideration too. But my commitment to Paul and to Terry is to make this the most competitive team possible in terms of talent and there’s nobody I trust more than Terry once he gets the right pieces in place we are going to make a huge jump in terms of wins and losses, but I can’t evaluate it specifically because I don’t know who those guys are right now.”

Olshey on Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith and Luke Babbitt
“I think Nolan needs a new environment. I think Nolan’s and NBA player, but I think bringing Eric Maynor in, I think  that the moniker of being a first round pick was tough for Nolan to overcome. He’s a great kid, he did everything we asked him to do when he was here, he’s going to be on an NBA roster next year, but I do think he, more than anyone, needs a change of scenery and needs to start fresh. With Luke, we’re not closing the door to anything, but clearly with LaMarcus playing 36 minutes a night and Joel probably more four than five than we’d originally anticipated and then Victor (Claver) getting a lot of those minutes, we have other areas where we need more roster balance where we need to apply our resources, but as I told Luke we’re not going to rule it out. He’s got a special skill and we’ll see what the roster looks like on July 1st. With Elliot, nobody knows what we have with Elliot Williams. Elliot is a guy I scouted back in college, I saw for five minute in here during the offseason workouts and then didn’t get an opportunity. Clearly he’s got talent and there’s three years invested in trying to get him healthy and get him right and if there’s an opportunity to bring him back then it’s something we want to look at.”

Olshey on if the luxury tax will free up the trade market
“I don’t know. This is kind of our first foray into this. Seeing just how vulnerable teams are, I think you saw a little bit of it at the trade deadline. I think for the most part any team that has a chance to win a championship is rarely going to make moves based strictly on finances, but I think if you can provide teams with an attractive alternative to the player that they have, which is why the more valuable the draft picks you have, the more deal making tools you have, the more young assets you have, the more attractive packages you can put together and construct to maybe bring somebody in that helps us move forward faster. And I think that this will be the first true cycle where we get into the, you’ve got Chicago, you’ve got the draft, you’ve got free agency, where teams are starting to live with the reality of a progressive luxury tax.”


  1. Hey Miss Sarah, thanks for the post. I am already excited about next year, but then I was excited through the last game.

    by Hg on 4/23/2013 4:23 PM
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