May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (3) drives past Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the first quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Neil Olshey: “Young guys are going to have to earn an opportunity”

The Portland Trail Blazers held a press conference yesterday to introduce freshly signed players, Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. Kaman was presented with the number 35 jersey, while Blake was presented with the number 25. The number 25 was previously worn by Mo Williams, who will not be returning to the Portland Trail Blazers. The Trail Blazers have used up all 15 of their allotted roster spots and are now done making moves this offseason unless an advantageous trade opportunity arises. General Manager Neil Olshey spoke on the newest additions and what they mean for the team moving forward:



“Would you say you are done now, or are you still looking to be opportunistic?”

Oct 2, 2012; Tualatin, OR, USA; Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey attends the first day of practice at the Trail Blazers training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

“Well unless they give us a 16th roster spot I’m done. I’d like to be done. Look, I think Terry [Stotts] and I are both really comfortable with where the roster is right now—it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to explore opportunities to upgrade other areas if they come up. That’s our job, but I think we went into this offseason knowing where we had some gaps to fill. We think these guys [Blake & Kaman] really filled both those gaps, and all we want to keep doing is just keep moving the ball forward.

I think last summer our team got better and this summer our team got better and we’re going to keep moving in a positive direction and adding guys, but there’s a patience factor to this too. People point to certain teams around the league and describe that as the model small market teams should follow, but nobody wants to have the patience to actually let the process unfold.

So you can see we’ve accelerated a little bit based on the success of some of our existing players and last year we took a huge jump and, from a competitive standpoint, we’ll take another jump this year. So we’re always going to keep our eyes open, but I think we’re really comfortable with where the roster is right now. I think if we had any deficiencies in terms of veteran leadership and stability and experience off the bench against a team like San Antonio in the playoffs, I think Steve [Blake] and Chris [Kaman] help answer those questions.

Like I said, we’re still anticipating a big jump from our younger guys. They’re in here working—they’ve been here since early June. When talent meets opportunity you’ve got a great situation. I think these guys are going to have to—like last year—earn an opportunity. Our young guys are going to have to earn an opportunity to get on the floor, because when you play for a winning team with high aspirations, things aren’t given to you. I think it’s important that our young guys’ development will actually be better as a result of earning minutes and not having them given to them.”



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Tags: Chris Kaman Free Agency Mo Williams Neil Olshey Portland Trail Blazers Steve Blake

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