Jun 22

Open Letter to Neil Olshey

By Kassandra Posted in: Blazers, Heat, LaMarcusAldridge, NicolasBatum, Spurs
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.

Thank You,

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. 


  1. Well Kassandra...What a wonderful read and so true! Thank you so much for sharing. I am so excited for the Trailblazers future.

    by Kim Thrasher on 6/22/2013 8:55 PM
  2. This is awesome Kass! well done. It was fun to read

    by CamCripps3 on 6/22/2013 9:07 PM
  3. I love this blog! Except for the one about 9/11 this is my favorite blog of yours. I hope Neil Olshey reads it. I am excited about this summer too. I think he can get it done!

    by Angi on 6/22/2013 9:48 PM
  4. Good job Miss Kassandra

    That speaks for most of the BlazerNation

    by Hg on 6/23/2013 4:24 AM
  5. thanks guys! i really enjoyed writing this one. i kind of felt putting these things down in blog form would state my position on a number of these issues, rather than to try to clarify when each question is asked during the process. i very much appreciate all of your kind words.

    by Kassandra on 6/23/2013 11:30 AM
  6. This is a great letter/blog. I am almost surprised no one else thought to write something like this. Then again, leave it to the most intelligent person I know to put together such an outstanding piece!

    by julianne on 6/23/2013 12:21 PM
  7. I find myself torn on the solution for interior defense. Sure we could probably work a deal for Gortat or Spencer Hawes and that would likely get us back into the playoffs. It might appease Aldridge, then again it might send him away for taking up all our cap space on a first round exit roster. I also learned to love basketball in the Drexler, Porter era and my key learning from that team and teams like it then (Jazz, Pacers) and now (Pacers, Memphis, OKC) is that small market teams succeed by building teams not buying them. Let the Lakers and the Knicks iron out egos and pecking orders, those are headaches you largely avoid when you build through the draft.

    Pursuing an established center will cost us substantial cap space and unless we are only signing for the coming season it will impact our ability to keep the core together. Drafting a player like Dieng however is a better long term play if we can keep Aldridge in town. Dieng reminds me a lot of Ibaka. He plays solid defense, quick enough to adequately defend the rim on switches. He is raw on offense but that might change. Even if it doesn't, he looks NBA ready on defense straight out of college. He also has skills and instincts that can't be taught on defense. Then we save cap space for Lilliard's extension and resigning the core down the road.

    by t bone on 6/23/2013 7:46 PM
  8. Well said Kass!

    by riverman on 6/24/2013 11:56 AM
  9. That was very well said! T Bone, I am in complete agreement with you on Dieng. I believe if we traded back for an extra late round pick or future pick we could still pick up Dieng and perhaps turn him into a Marcus Camby/Joachim Noah hybrid. We might still have a roster spot for a veteran banger inside with 6 more fouls and a nasty disposition who is willing to protect his turf. Right now we need role players to complement our (medium) big three and Dieng is the best I have seen who is definitely within reach.

    by Just Tim on 6/24/2013 4:48 PM
  10. That was very well said! T Bone, I am in complete agreement with you on Dieng. I believe if we traded back for an extra late round pick or future pick we could still pick up Dieng and perhaps turn him into a Marcus Camby/Joachim Noah hybrid. We might still have a roster spot for a veteran banger inside with 6 more fouls and a nasty disposition who is willing to protect his turf. Right now we need role players to complement our (medium) big three and Dieng is the best I have seen who is definitely within reach.

    by Just Tim on 6/24/2013 4:52 PM
  11. come on Jules, you know me by now! couldn't pass up the opportunity. i'm just surprised no one else has done it!

    t-bone: i checked out Dieng and he's certainly an option. in fact, a couple of the mock drafts out there have him going as high as 10th, but the majority seem to have him going in the 18-22 range. of course, rumors have it the Thunder could be interested in him at number 12. i understand you wanting to save the cap space for extensions. however, if we don't build something around LaMarcus over the next season and a half, he may sign elsewhere as a free agent. we don't have to worry about extending Damian until 2016; possibly 2015. i think Mr. Olshey has made it clear he intends to build now rather than wait until later. suffice to say, at least some of the cap space we have will be used this summer -- i think we can bank on that. as i've mentioned in some of my other blogs (and blog comments), i anticipate us signing a free agent center for a season or two until Meyers or perhaps a guy we find in the draft, is ready to step in. all that being said, Dieng could fill that need in the long term; or at least fight with Meyers for playing time -- hopefully making them both better as they progress.

    thanks riverman and thank you to Just Tim for your comments. only two days until we find out all these things!

    by Kassandra on 6/25/2013 8:13 PM
  1. Leave a comment

The views expressed on the Trail Blazers Blogger Network represent those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of the Trail Blazers organization, the NBA, or any other NBA team.

Blog Contributors

Most Commented

The most commented posts in the past month

Blog Archives