Portland Trail Blazers Rumors
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.
So essentially, the Magic gave Harkless to the Blazers for nothing. The former 15th overall pick is looking to atone for a pair of disappointing seasons as he joins a team that’s rebuilding with youth after the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge. “Mo was very high on our board a few years ago in the draft,” Portland general manager Neil Olshey said. “We were excited about him. He has a lot of potential. He fits our model right now; he’s an emerging young player. He’s got a lot of talent. “We have a lot of faith in our player development staff and our coaches that guys hit their ceilings, and we know Mo’s not even close to his ceiling at this point. He’s going to get a great opportunity with us to be the player we loved coming out of the draft.”
After a busy summer that included his wedding, some basketball and, last night, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Hillsboro Hops game, Meyers Leonard is fired up for another NBA season. And fired up to help Damian Lillard with leadership on this year’s team. “Obviously, Dame and I are the guys who have been here the longest and he’s going to be our leader. But I hope to be right there by his side, kind of a co-leader, right there having his back through the ups and downs,” Leonard said Thursday night in Hillsboro.
Lowe asked Olshey about whether the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, which didn’t allow the Blazers to give LaMarcus Aldridge a more lucrative extension last year hurt them, and Olshey said that it did. But he also said that it helps other teams avoid getting hamstrung by players at the end of their usefulness from demanding tons of years and money.
Olshey was also asked about reports claiming that LaMarcus Aldridge was prompted to say that he wanted to be the best Blazers player ever. Olshey laughed it off, saying he didn’t think it came “from a very reliable media outlet… it was a blog or something.” Lowe began to remind Olshey that it originated from Blazer’s Edge, but Olshey cut him off, asking what he (Olshey) would gain from prompting LaMarcus to make those comments.
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.”