It's a good time to be Paul Allen. Well, it's never a bad time to be a billionaire, but Allen's Seattle Seahawks are looking great one-quarter of the way through the NFL season. Allen's NBA team, meanwhile, is looking to take another step forward this season with their promising core. The Trail Blazers owner met with reporters earlier today to talk about the state of the franchise as the 2013/14 season approaches. Here's a look at some of the highlights, courtesy of The Oregonian's Mike Tokito..
Is it playoffs or bust this year?
I wouldn’t put it that way. I talked to (GM) Neil (Olshey) right after the last game of the season, and we made a conscious decision and had a lot of determination that we wanted to improve the team. So we’ve brought a blend of veterans in and draft picks and so definitely we’ve got so much more depth this year, so much more talent 1 through 12 to complement our starters from last year. So we’re in a much improved place.
How has GM Neil Olshey done in his first 15 months on the job?
I think Neil and the scouts have done a great job in improve the talent. Now it’s the coaches’ turn to take that talent and see how far we can go, see how these guys blend in the preseason and how the young guys develop, how the veterans build in. There’s going to be a lot of great stories this year.
How do you feel the transition has gone with the new management and coaching staff?
Basically, I think there was – if you were the owner – some somewhat discouraging times there and you have to bear down and say, 'OK, we’re going to have to make some changes. We have to bring in a new GM, make a coaching change and so forth, executive changes, and that’s all come together. We need to see the full fruits of doing that. Obviously we’ve had some successes in Seattle in making wholesale changes and now we need to see how that’s going to evolve in Portland. But I’m very optimistic.
Do you have specific benchmarks for a successful season?
I don’t, because there are so many things that can intervene and change things, whether that’s injuries, as we’ve seen, we’ve just been plagued by injury problems, I hate to even bring it up, but things like that. And you don’t know how other teams are going to perform in your conference, too. But I think we’re going to be in the mix for a playoff spot, but other than that, I can’t predict.
Are you still opposed to spending into luxury tax unless you’re in contention?
We’ve basically made the moves for this season – free agents are all signed, or they’re playing overseas or they’re with new teams – so this is our team. Not to say something couldn’t happen during the season, but I’m really not expecting it at this point. But things could always change and evolve.”
With coaches and roster, do you think things are as stable with the franchise as they’ve been in a while?
Yes, I think we’ve turned the page and we’re in a new era here, and we’ve got some of our veterans like Nic and L.A. and Wes that joined us before, and obviously, Damian, I think we all believe that he’s going to continue to grow. We’ve got new players like Dorell and Robin and Mo that have just tons of experience. So you blend that experience with the talent that we already have and draft picks like C.J. McCollum, it’s going to be super interesting to see how the season evolves, and I hope the fans are as excited as I am.