While it’s the players who take center stage at Media Day, the opportunity to ask questions of team executives, who tend to make far fewer public statements throughout the course of the season than the athletes, affords fans a rare opportunity to hear from those steering the franchise from behind the scenes. So here are a few quotes from Neil Olshey, Portland’s President of Basketball Operations, and Chris McGowan, President and CEO of the Trail Blazers, along with their complete interviews in audio form.
On his attempts to improve the roster this offseason…
“I think we’ve been consistent. We liked our team, liked the path we were on because of the age of the roster and because of the long term salary commitments we made, we had a long runway with this group. Clearly the West got incredibly competitive, right? We had one all-star leave, three come in, one switched teams. We tried to keep up in the arms race as best we could. We made every effort. Most of the movement was by trade and you need willing partners when it comes to trades. I can tell you we were incredibly aggressive, we protected certain pieces of our roster that we felt were irreplaceable. I don’t like to talk about things that could have been, but like I said, we did everything in our power to try and accelerate where we’re trying to get to as a team. In terms of trade, it didn’t work out, but like I said, we didn’t give anything up either in terms of the future of the roster that we continue to build.
“It puts more pressure on player development, it puts more pressure on player growth because we’re not getting as much help from the outside that we would have like had we been able to make a trade, but things aren’t over yet. We’ve got the biggest trade exception in the league, we’re still aggressive. Back in February, who would have thought the impact that Jusuf Nurkić would have had, and that’s not an excuse for not getting things done with some of the higher profile guys that were on the market this summer, but not every answer is the simple answer of the highest profile guys, someone you have to go after and go get, because a lot of teams had tools, a lot of teams realized we were trying to keep up with Golden State as best we could. We weren’t the only teams that didn’t end up with those guys. So we can talk about the three that came, there were 27 other teams in the league that didn’t get those guys either.”
On the Trail Blazers’ failed bid for an NBA All-Star Game in Portland
“Second attempt at getting a bid. We were told by the league we won’t be a finalist for the All-Star bids that were put out for bid. That was unfortunate news from the league. I had good conversations with the NBA about the potential of getting one in the future and they remain opening minded to it but we’re going to have to wait for another bid cycle… They put out for ’20 and ’21 as well. We’re not going to be in contention for either one of them.
“I was at an Oregon Sports Hall of Fame event last week where they were re-celebrating Harry Glickman. There was a video about Harry’s tenure at the Blazers, some commentary from David Stern and David Stern was mentioning that Harry must be on him all the time to get an All-Star game. I told Harry that wasn’t successful but I could use his help to talk to Adam (Silver) about a potential one. So it’s kind of been a plight to get one, to come to Portland. I think we deserve one, our fans deserve one, Paul (Allen) deserves one. Hopefully we’ll continue to have positive conversations with the league. Haven’t really thought about bidding again but it will be hard not to, so when they put up future years I’m sure we’ll bid again. I’m encouraged by the hotel developments that are going on in the city, so I think there’s a lot of good things happening that can hopefully position ourselves to get one at some point. Even having big national events like PK80 helps. We’ll continue pushing forward and hopefully I’ll be here for many more years to come and one of those years will include an All-Star game. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”