Blazers GM Neil Olshey dished about his team with Justin Termine and Mateen Cleaves on the "Off The Dribble" show on SiriusXM Sports, revealing details about his plans and some of the moves he's made since taking over the Portland front office in June. Part of the agenda for the team is to address its rebounding deficiencies at the trade deadline and in the offseason, Olshey revealed. Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com put together a transcript of the full interview (hat tip to Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge), and we'll run down some of the juicier material here.
On whether the team will make moves to try to salvage this season:
"We need to see what we have, we need to develop our assets, we need to continue to groom Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge and get them to get to the next level, but look, next summer we're going to have $13MM in cap room, we're going to have a first (round pick), three seconds, we have an aggressive owner who's willing to spend whatever it takes to win. So the only thing we want to do is we don't want to race to the middle. We want to make moves that put us up at the upper echelon of the Western Conference when this thing comes together for a sustainable period of time, not make a bunch of incremental moves that maybe let us slide into eighth to go get swept in the first round and then be back to the drawing board again."
On the drafting of Damian Lillard:
"I just really felt when I met the kid and spent time with him and watched him interact with my staff, my owner and our coaches at the time, that he was the kind of guy you could hand the ball to day one, just like a Kyrie Irving or a (Russell) Westbrook, a (Derrick) D. Rose. I'm not comparing him to those players, but that's what those organizations did as well, and I really felt like he had the kind of gravitas and composure where opening night he could take the ball. And there were going to be some bumps in the road, but once we lived through them, he was a franchise-caliber point guard."
On the decision to match the Wolves' offer sheet for Nicolas Batum:
"Well look, he's a dynamic wing player. He's clearly far better than anybody we thought would be available on the free agent market had we not matched the offer sheet. We have an owner that,. he wants to build. He doesn't want to rebuild; he wants to build and he doesn't want to take a step backwards basketball-wise. We just felt like Nicolas was just coming into his prime; it's the first year he's going to be a full-time starter. He makes a huge impact on the defensive end of the floor, he can go for big numbers, and I really felt like the kind of system that Terry Stotts was going to run was absolutely suited for his skill set. He's off to a career year as well. Nicolas is a part of the core."
On the hiring of coach Terry Stotts:
"I think we took a little bit of a different approach. We put the roster together first and then hired the best coach we thought would fit it. I thought Terry would be a great partner; he and I had a relationship prior to this. We'd been on the floor together working with players. I think he has a great … he gets great respect from his players. I thought he would know how to utilize LaMarcus (Aldridge) to the best of his ability, and I think I felt like we have a lot of pieces very similar to the Dallas team that won the championship in terms of skill set and style of play. And we really felt like when he implemented that offense, it was going to heighten the value and production of guys like Wes Matthews and Nic Batum, which was really important to us, to make sure those guys took the next step in their development as players. I also knew he'd be open to playing younger players. That had been his history."