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Neil Olshey Talks Blazers’ Roster, Offseason, CBA

The Trail Blazers couldn't steal a victory in Memphis last night, and a recent slide has all but removed the team from the playoff conversation in the Western Conference. However, it's still been a solid season for Portland, a team that was expected to be firmly in the lottery this year. General manager Neil Olshey appeared on 1080 AM in Portland on Wednesday to discuss the season and the club's future, and Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge transcribed a number of Olshey's notable comments. Here are the highlights:

On his assessment of the season and the roster:

"We've set a really good foundation. It's a process. It's not my job to react to things that happened prior to my arrival. It's my job to be proactive to build the organization from where I inherited it. Getting a strong coaching staff in, I think we nailed the draft with Damian [Lillard] and Meyers [Leonard], we've gotten great development out of our core guys and we've got great cap flexibility going forward. I think we're in a great position."

On the timeline the team anticipates for taking the next step:

"It's as fast as possible. Nobody wants to accelerate this thing more than [owner] Paul [Allen] and I. What we don't want to do is make a race to the middle by making knee-jerk reactions that work for the next five minutes. I think we're a better team than we were at this point last year. We've got a lot of flexibility going forward."

On whether the team will re-sign Eric Maynor:

"That was not a deal done in a vacuum just to get us over the next 25 games. Eric is being evaluated just like everybody else on the roster. What was intriguing about Eric is that he was a restricted free agent and we do have the ability to keep him long-term. He's represented by an agent who we have a good relationship with, who also represents Jared Jeffries and J.J. Hickson and had Jamal Crawford. For me in Los Angeles, he represented Kenyon Martin and Chauncey Billups. We're going to work together with Andy [Miller] to make sure that this is the right spot for Eric and he works into our roster composition and our culture going forward."

On whether the team has decided which players will stay and go in the offseason:

"We have for the most part. It's certainly nothing that we're going to make public. There are certain guys that the organization had made commitments to prior to our arrival, both Terry and myself, that we were going to give an opportunity to compete, see how they fit into Terry's system of coaching offensively and defensively. How they fit into our team and culture going forward."

On how the new CBA has affected the Blazers' roster-building:

"I don't think it really has, to be honest with you. Everybody wants to use that as a bail out, that the CBA has changed things, I haven't seen the results of that yet. If people are being more judicious in their free agent signings then that's a good thing for the league in general because we work off of comps. When you've got teams that are willing to solve problems or get themselves out of trouble by overspending on certain areas, it changes the comps around the league. The more we can make this about expertise and prudent free agent signings, solid trades, and placing a higher level of importance on the draft and player retention, I think it's a good thing for the league and our fans."

On the team's top-12 protected draft pick, which may or may not change hands:

"Part of being in a front office is that it's a fluid situation. You've got to change gears, you've got to have multi-tiered strategies. If we end up in a position where we retain our draft pick, then we'll go into the draft and see if we can get an impact player like we did last summer. If we don't… it allows us to start putting that pick in play into deals beginning on draft day, it increases our cap room from about $11.8MM to $13.1MM. It allows us to be more active in the free agent market and then going forward you just analyze whether you'd rather have one in this draft or have one unencumbered going forward. That's going to end up being a player."

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