Blazers GM Neil Olshey addressed the media to wrap up the 2012/13 season, and we've got the highlights below, courtesy of Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge..
What went into the decision behind waiving Jared Jeffries?
"Jared was well aware that we were always going to have to waive him. He was part of a sign-and-trade where we had to do three years. His second year would have been guaranteed within five days after the end of the season. We felt it was appropriate to handle while he was here. He was a player that we we were going to have to renounce anyway to create the maximum amount of cap room. As we told Jared, we'll look into it again at the end of the summer. If we have a need and he doesn't have a job, it's something that we can discuss. Right now, where this organization is going, we need every ounce of cap room we can get to create the best roster possible."
What improvements do you need to make this summer?
"It's obvious. We had a tough time protecting the rim, we had a tough time giving up points in the paint. That's not an indictment of J.J. Hickson, we asked a 6-foot-9 power forward to play center every night in a league against the Marc Gasols, Roy Hibberts, Dwight Howards, etc. Even last night against Andrew Bogut. J.J. performed admirably but that's a hole we need to shore up. We've got to get our interior defense better. That's my job, whether it's by draft, trade or free agency, to make sure that's not a hole that Terry walks into next training camp having to address."
Does players recruiting other players actually work or is money the overriding factor in free agency decisions?
"Max money to max players is always a good idea. [Recruiting] is big, guys want to play with guys who are about the same stuff and who are trying to win. The best voice for your organization is your players. How they're treated, the resources they have, how they're coached, how they prepare for games, how aggressive the front office is, how invested the owner is.
All of those things, LaMarcus Aldridge has a larger sample size of anyone in the organization, he's been here the longest, and I think he knows that Paul is going to drive anyone who works for him to build this as quickly as possible. If LaMarcus can embrace and endorse what we're doing, there's more credibility there sometimes than a general manager who is recruiting or a coach or his agent who is negotiating the deal on a player to player level. I think that the bigger, stronger advocates of guys like Damian, LaMarcus and Nic can be for us, the easier free agent recruitment will be for us."
Will you tender a qualifying offer to Eric Maynor?
"It's more strategic than complex. Eric has a very significant cap hold. We really like Eric. We made the moves because we want him to be a part of our future but there are realities to how strategically we can maximize the amount of room we have, the mini-mid level that we have and the draft pick. Who knows? Our roster may look far different come July 1 which can affect what we do as well. Eric, Andy Miller, everybody knows we are going to maximize every tool that we have knowing that we are taking into consideration that we want Eric back with us."
Joe Freeman of the Oregonian was among the reporters addressed by Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey about the team's priorities for the upcoming offseason, among them finding a starting center and adding depth to the bench in spots six through ten. Although it isn't likely that Portland will tender a qualifying offer to Eric Maynor this summer, Olshey spoke as though the team still hopes to keep him as part of their future. Also, he said that the Trail Blazers would consider retaining Elliot Williams, whose team option for 2013-14 had been declined earlier this season (All Twitter links here).
Though the team finished with nearly a two percent drop in winning percentage compared to 2011-12, this season marked Olshey's first as well as head coach Terry Stott's tenure with the franchise. With the viewpoint that the current roster isn't talented enough, all signs point to another busy offseason, especially with a bevy of cap space at their disposal to continue building around Rookie of the Year candidate Damian Lillard. Olshey relayed that he spoke with team owner Paul Allen yesterday and promised that the franchise would be more competitive next year.
While the Trail Blazers' 13-game losing streak to close the season wasn't pretty, it did help the team load up on draft picks for the coming summer. The Blazers' first-rounder is top-12 protected, which means they'd only lose it if three of the four teams below them in the draft lottery standings jumped up into the top three. In addition to that first-rounder, the Blazers will also keep their own second-rounder (No. 40), and acquire second-rounders from the Timberwolves (No. 39) and Celtics (No. 46). Here's more out of Portland:
The Nuggets escaped last night's game against the Mavericks with a 95-94 win, maintaining their hold on the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, but the bad news outweighed the good. Danilo Gallinari left the game with a knee injury that both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post hear is likely an ACL tear. As the Nuggets wait for more information on an injury that could be a huge blow to the team's title chances, let's check in on a few other notes out of the Northwest....
Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times touches on several juicy topics from around the league in his latest piece. We'll hit the highlights here:
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes that while Eric Maynor has been a solid addition for the Trail Blazers, it isn't likely that Portland would offer him the $3.4MM qualifying offer that he's eligible for this summer. However, Freeman writes that a more plausible scenario would involve the Blazers to allow Maynor to become an unrestricted free agent in order to let the market set his value, which is how they handled J.J. Hickson's free agency before he ultimately returned to the team.
With plenty of contracts set to expire in the offseason, Portland expects to have a significant amount of cap space to have at their disposal. However, Maynor's $5.85MM cap hold would significantly eat into the team's flexibility, which explains why they could prefer to relinquish their rights over him as a restricted free agent. The 6'3 guard, who has seen his playing time nearly double since being acquired from the Thunder, has put up 7.1 PPG and 3.6 APG for the Blazers in 14 games.
Without Bird or even Early Bird rights, The Nets could be in a tricky situation if they want to re-sign Andray Blatche, whom Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors ranked among the best one-year contract signings this season. Blatche indicated to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that he might make it easy on Brooklyn, since he'll still be drawing paychecks from his amnestied contract with the Wizards. "I’m very aware (of my unique situation)," Blatche said. "That’s what I’m saying. Everybody is probably thinking I’m looking to get that big check. I’m not. Not at all. I’m looking at what’s best for me."
Here's more from around the league on the one-year anniversary of the 2012 trade deadline:
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
After spending most of his NBA career with the Thunder, Eric Maynor is just seven games into his stint with the Trail Blazers, but is enjoying his time in Portland so far. As he tells Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, Maynor hopes the team tenders him a qualifying offer, and is very open to the idea of remaining a Blazer beyond this season.
"That would be great for me," Maynor said of potentially receiving a qualifying offer. "There's a bunch of cool dudes that work hard and want to get better. I'm used to that and those are the type of guys I want to be around. This is the type of team that I want to be on."
General manager Neil Olshey is keeping his options open when it comes to filling out the roster this summer, so it's not clear yet whether Maynor will be re-signed. But according to the Blazers GM, the club had the future in mind when it traded for Maynor last month.
"We acquired Eric because we felt he could be a long-term solution at a position of need," Olshey said. "Obviously we are pleased with the impact he has made and how quickly he has fit in. We plan to use the remainder of the season to evaluate how he, and all of our potential free agents, fit into our roster composition."
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."
A roundup of the latest news and notes from around the NBA on Tuesday evening: