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Paul Allen On: Roster, Expectations, Stotts

The Trail Blazers held their first practice of the 2016/17 season today. Afterwards, team owner Paul Allen addressed the media and answered a number of questions regarding the state of the franchise. The entire chat is worth a gander, but some of the highlights are relayed below. Hat tip to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian for the transcription:

On if he had any reservations about the contracts the team handed out this summer:

Well, [president of basketball operations and GM] Neil Olshey and I go over all those things closely, I think. One of the big decisions was when we discussed signing Evan Turner and that worked out. And to get Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless back, they were all very deliberate decisions we evaluated. The financial consequences are significant, but that’s because we believe in this group of guys. They showed what they can do last year.

On his expectations for the 2016/17 season:

“I always try not to make, as you know — I think we’ve done this for a while — I don’t make particular predictions on the number of wins and losses. But I think we have a chance to be significantly better than last year. And I think everybody was really encouraged to see how the team came together last year, how well the coaching meshed with the talent. And the guys that Neil brought in, I think, exceeded everybody’s expectations. So that was a very encouraging year last year and hopefully we’ll build on that.

On the job head coach Terry Stotts has done:

I think he’s done an excellent job. I think it’s pretty unique to see a coach adjust to the talent he has and maximize the abilities of the players he has and help them keep growing. You have to realize, we’re a very, very young team. I was kidding Neil earlier, I said, ‘Well, there’s other teams that seem to try to perfect the art of using older players to their maximum, whereas our approach is to bring in young talent, in some cases unproven talent, and try to take that talent to another level.’ And I think you saw that in terms of player development last year. So both in terms of development and execution, obviously, and making it out of the first round last year and giving Golden State a real run for their money, that was all extremely encouraging.”

On whether or not he’s willing to pay the luxury tax:

That darn luxury tax is pretty painful. You have to make those decisions. As you know, at one point, I believe I had the record for the highest luxury tax payments. In the end, that didn’t make sense. So that’s something we’ll have to look at very carefully. Sometimes you can go into the tax for a year or something and then come out of it if it makes sense as you’re transitioning through different player contracts. So it’s something Neil and I will evaluate very carefully.

On if the league and NBPA can avoid a lockout when the current CBA expires or either side opts out:

“As individual owners, we’re not supposed to speak about CBA negotiations. So I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to say that, given the economics that are in play here, I think it’s in everybody’s — the players and the owner’s — best interest to work something out. So I’m optimistic.”

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