Neil Olshey was introduced as the new Blazers GM today and spoke to the press for over 30 minutes (video via CSN Northwest). Olshey will be very busy very quickly with the NBA Draft approaching, free agency looming in July and of course, the Blazers' coaching vacancy. Last week the Clippers announced that they had agreed to retain Olshey as their general manager but after Portland kept pushing, the two sides parted ways and Olshey agreed to terms with the Blazers.
The most surprising part of Olshey's press conference was that he essentially endorsed interim head coach Kaleb Canales, according to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest. Haynes notes that Olshey and Canales share the same agent – Warren LeGarie. Canales said that he doesn't think it is crucial to hire a coach before the draft, which is what he will currently concentrating on. But he gushed over Canales to the point that it seems like he will be the guy in Portland:
"If you're asking me to handicap it, I'll say he's the in-hour favorite right now. But at the end of the day, I don't see anyone bringing more to the table than Kaleb Canales. But we're going to follow a process to see how it works out," Olshey said.
As for the actual roster, Olshey says he wants to build up the Blazers to compete over a long time period with LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum as the cornerstones. Olshey compared the duo to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in Los Angeles and expressed confidence that the team is not far from being a contender:
"I don't think rebuild is the wrong word. I think re-tool. I think the organization is in a great position. I think we can accelerate our curve back to where we want to go. We're not looking for quick fixes. We're not looking for aging veterans that can slide us into the eighth spot."
His stance on aging veterans would probably make Steve Nash an unlikely sign for Portland, which is a popular rumor of late. John Canzano of the Oregonian also offers his take on the new general manager, saying he came away impressed but thinks they could aim higher in terms of a coach.