Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey fielded some questions about the draft and the team roster following today's pre-draft workout, telling reporters that he plans to draft the best player available regardless of position. Also, he said that with 40-50 prospects booked to work out for Portland, the team isn't just limiting itself to evaluating players that they plan to select on draft night, but to also consider prospects that could go undrafted and potentially be part of their minor league system. There are plenty of noteworthy quotes from the official transcript, though you can read some of the highlights from that interview below (hat tip goes to Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge).
On the idea that this year has a weak draft class:
"I don't necessarily agree. I don't know if there's a presumptive superstar at the top, which is what people who are picking up there would like, but fortunately we're not picking up there. I think the draft has really good depth, I think you're going to get quality players but I think it's all based on what your level of expectation is. I think it's a solid draft, I like where we're positioned, I think there are really good players at that level. If you have a realistic expectation of what they can produce, I think you're going to get a quality player."
When asked if a starting caliber player can be drafted with their 10th overall pick:
"I think we're going to get a good player, I think we got good players last year…Where you draft doesn't always have as much importance as how you draft. I think we got a really good player last year at 40, in Will Barton, and we wouldn't have expected him to be available at that position. Getting the right player is what's important, not a name-awareness player, not from a group-think dynamic of who people think you should take, or expect you to take, but who is going to fit into our culture and roster composition. And really to expand our talent base, which is where we're a little bit lacking right now and where we need to improve.
On if there's a certain player that has caught his eye:
"At this point, you're trying to narrow the scope of your process. From live scouting, film, Chicago, background intel, the research we've done talking to college coaches, I think we've narrowed the field. This is part of the process that can get you over the top. It really is more about spending time with these guys, getting to know who they are as people. We're in Portland, we do have a unique culture up here. Guys who can fit into our culture, fit into the community, what we're trying to build here is just as important as how talented they are."
Regarding trade talks:
"There's always activity. People who know what they want to accomplish this offseason are probably more active than those who are still in an investigation mode. We've got some turnover in the league right now with new front offices, they're trying to get their feet wet. For all of us, we have to find and establish a value for our draft pick before we would even consider being involved in a deal that would utilize it to bring back an existing player."
"I don't think top to bottom that we're as talented as we need to be to compete with the upper-echelon teams in the Western Conference. The draft is a player acquisition vehicle. Now, that can be selecting a player, trading for an existing player, using the draft pick, we've got three vehicles coming up here. We have the draft, we have free agency 72 hours later, and we have potential trades. The goal is to get into this fall with a much deeper, much more talented roster to give ourselves a chance to compete for a playoff spot."