I believe in Neil Olshey, and so should you.
There is no five-point plan to follow that puts your team in immediate title contention; spending money for the sake of it certainly wouldn’t be on the list if it did exist.
The GM’s job in large part is seling the city on the product of Rip City Basketball, and the market for the starting five of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum, Damian Lillard, and (probably) JJ Hickson just isn’t that hot right now. Yes, fans are excited to see what Lillard can do, but for a team with eight new players, the roster still seems stale. Olshey himself admitted that even with those eight additions, “We’re not where we want to be.”
Olshey continued: “The question marks we do have that are absolutely legitimate is depth. That’s a victim or a casualty of instead of going and getting the $5-7 million dollar players to solidify the bench, we want to make sure we’ve got a starting lineup first.”
So why should fans get behind him? Why shouldn’t you be disappointed that the Blazers weren’t able to bring in more help? Because he understands that setting an arbitrary goal of making the playoffs isn’t the only measure of a successful season: “No one wants to be a middle of the road team. No one wants to fight for seventh, eighth, or ninth and get your butt kicked in the first round of the playoffs.” Olshey understands that building a championship team takes “vision, purpose, and direction” and requires everyone from the owner to the 15th man to be on board and have patience.
Olshey is promising fans an “exciting brand of basketball” that will keep the Rose Garden’s 3,486ish consecutive sell-out streak active without sacrificing future flexibility. He has high expectations for the future of this franchize, and the dicipline to stick to his vision. That is exactly the type of direction the 2013 Blazers need under new management and coach.
While the roster might not be as strong as fans had hoped to start the season, the direction of team is in good hands.
Additional Olshey quotes from this afternoon:
- Kim Hughes and Meyeres Leonard are both “big goofy white dudes.”
- “When you have LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, and Wes Matthews it’s really not a rebuild. We were very aggressive in free agency, we went after a franchise caliber player. We didn’t get him. But, instead of reacting and going right back to the middle…no one wants to be a middle of the road team. No one wants to fight for seventh, eight, or ninth (playoff position) and get your butt kicked in the first round of the playoffs.”
- “I think we’re the only team in the western conference that hasn’t won a playoff series in the last decade and a half.”
- “You guys look at Nic, LaMarcus, and Wes as guys who have already been here, but I look at them as completely new players based on the offense that we’re going to run, the system that we have, the coaches that we have. I think they are going to flourish.”
- “You can’t give up cap flexibility and opportunity costs on the bench until you get your starting lineup in tact. That’s what we’re going to do. It’s either going to be done via trade during the season, or it’s going to be done next off season when we’re going to have up to $13.5 million dollars in room again.”
More media day and training camp coverage coming soon.