Neil Olshey Rumors
Q: Where’s your confidence level with Neil Olshey? Paul Allen: “Great. Neil and I work hand in hand. We recruited LA. We talked to other players. We got through strategy frequently in the offseason. Now it’s exciting to start to see some basketball again. The offseason seems longer and longer, I guess, as the years go by. So I’m excited to get back into it.”
It’s ironic that Olshey fired assistant coach Kim Hughes for intimating in an interview before free agency began that Aldridge was leaving Portland, when it appeared the Trail Blazers were preparing for that possibility all along. As last season progressed, it became apparent Aldridge was leaving after nine years with the team. “We had a lot of veteran free agents, [but our offseason plan] was all based on LaMarcus’s decision,” Olshey said. “We had brought some guys in prior to July 3 when LaMarcus informed us he wasn’t coming back, that we felt could play either way — they could be really good additions to our current group or they could be guys we could move in another direction. We were preparing for this opportunity. We were kind of trying to play both ends against the middle and then LaMarcus informed us he wasn’t coming back, so we went full bore with guys in the same career arc as Damian Lillard.
Q: Al-Farouq Aminu’s contract: Why is that a good value contract for the Trail Blazers? Olshey: “In two years the cap’s gonna be 108 million dollars. With the cap going up, the deal will be less than what the mid-level will be in two years. His growth as a player was accelerated by playing for Rick Carlisle in Dallas…. We felt he could play multiple roles with LaMarcus or without.”
At around the 20 minute mark of the podcast, Olshey also talked in detail about the type of deals both Aminu and Ed Davis signed. With both contracts being descending deals meaning the money is front-loaded where the players earn less each year after the first year of the contract. Portland did this because they had to max out Damian Lillard who is on an ascending deal, meaning the money is back-loaded and he will earn more in each year of his deal. The Blazers felt this gave them more balance and flexibility if they want to make trades or sign other players down the road. This portion of the podcast is definitely worth listening in on.
“I think initially people were kind of caught off guard,” Olshey said of the summer developments. “I think people just assumed we’d be in a position to bring LaMarcus back. It’s my job to kind of look beyond that and do what’s best for the long-term health of the franchise. Our goal was to bring LaMarcus back. We were in the mix. He chose to take his career in another direction. But what we weren’t going to do was compound a negative situation and make it worse by signing long-term contracts and taking away flexibility for a team that, quite honestly, wasn’t going to be good enough. You have to be honest with yourself when you put a team together and you have to understand that was a group that got beat 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs with LaMarcus Aldridge, so it’s not reasonable to assume that that group as constructed, with no cap flexibility to bring in other players was going to be capable of competing at a high enough level to justify giving up a future that can be a lot brighter as long as people understand it’s not going to happen overnight.