Good morning Mr. Olshey,
First, allow me to introduce myself. I am Kassandra, a 21-year-old Portland-area native attending college in the Bay Area. I've been a fan of the Portland Trail Blazers since I was two years old. I would sit next to my father on the couch; asking a ton of questions while Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and their teammates were doing their thing for the Blazers, the city of Portland and its fans. That, of course, means I am entering my 20th year with the Trail Blazers. This is my 104th blog on this blogger network.
Neil -- may I call you Neil? The reason for this letter is to discuss the exciting off season upon which the franchise is about to embark. My guess is that you probably are much too busy to read each fan's suggestion as to how to proceed. That's understandable. I would not presume to tell you how to do your job; rather, express to you what I hope to see over the off-season and near future.
I'm quite sure it's policy not to discuss specific players. I'm in complete agreement with that. My aim here is to discuss items which are extremely applicable to the building process you and your staff are undertaking. As I mention these things, I believe that while I may not speak for the entire BlazerNation, I likely speak for many. I've even discussed several of these things informally with a number of fans. So, without further keyboard blabbering, please allow me to begin.
We recently witnessed the dividends of having a "big three" as we follow the NBA finals (though the third member of the Heat's big three didn't much show up in the finals). The Spurs had theirs (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli) and the Heat had theirs (LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh). Interestingly enough, the Blazers also have their own big three (LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard). With the correct supporting cast, there is no doubt in my mind the Blazers can reach the finals and contend for the championship itself. While you work on building that supporting cast, we need to make sure that contractually, each member of our big three is signed for the long term. Step one was accomplished with the drafting of Damian. Step two was completed with the signing of Nicolas. It's step three which is making more than a few Blazers fans nervous. LaMarcus has been the rock of this franchise for the past several years. I know it's much too early to act on his contract extension, but this is a major key to the team's success. As soon as the appropriate time comes, please re-sign LaMarcus to a long-term deal. He represents the hope that fans had for team as far back as 2006. Couple that with the not-so-mere fact that he is the best all-around power forward in the entire NBA and the significance of this point is clear. I understand it won't be easy, but I believe you are the general manager to get that done.
Personally, I am excited, thrilled and anticipatory regarding the young guys you brought in last season. In each's own way, I think each of them showed us something. Meyers jumped by leaps and bounds in his development over the course of the season, though still has a way to go. Victor showed us that he has a very high basketball iq and solid all-around game. Joel showed flashes of being that enforcer which every team desires and needs. Will displayed his explosiveness on several occasions. That being said, I don't think more youth is going to make the difference we need to be made to take the next step. As you most readily are aware, we have the 10th pick in the first round of the June 27 draft, as well as those three second-round selections. I feel it would be in our best interests to use those assets to augment the Blazers' youth with some younger role players who are fully able to support the big three. I'm referring to the three- to four-year hotshots who have some experience under their belts, yet have not had their true chance to play for a winner and contender. These are guys who've yet to reach their prime. You have the opportunity to both give them a chance and to provide the quality depth this team needs to take the next -- and ensuing -- steps on this journey to the finals.
Obviously, we need to shore up our inside defense. We can't keep letting guys get uncontested looks at the basket. A rookie is not the answer. Honestly, any one single player is not the option. We need a couple solid veterans who can help protect that oh so precious rim. We already have talent in the starting unit who can score. We need to defend. We need to make sure that we're not giving up the easy baskets we gave up this season. We need to pair LaMarcus with a starting center who can compliment him, while taking the load off of him. Your'e probably saying, "Well crap, Kassandra, that's obvious!" What you also know is that there are guys out there who are available. There are guys out there who can fit that bill -- some even at an affordable prices.
Of course, the one thing Blazers fans wish perhaps even more than a chance at winning the championship, is for their team, city and fans to be represented well. A decade ago, there were fans who were not happy some the players which then-management put together. There were several good-character guys, but there were enough bad eggs in the bunch which made several of us cringe when we heard their names. We don't want any of that anymore. Fortunately, I'm sure you already know -- and agree -- with that.
In closing, I would like to say I have the utmost confidence in your drive and ability to transform the Blazers into a winner and contender. Last year's swing-for-the-fences attempt at trying to obtain Roy Hibbert tells me and should tell Blazers fans everywhere that whatever you can do, you will do it for this team. That's exactly what we want.
In closing, I tell you I am looking forward to the progress which will be made over these next few months. I will be watching with great anticipation. Fans of the BlazerNation will tell you the same.
In Kassandra's Words features periodic blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever.