Neil Olshey happy with Blazers 'foundation,' always looking to build, contend

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Olshey happy with Blazers 'foundation,' always looking to build, contend originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

Just days after Trail Blazers announced they have mutually parted ways with head coach Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations spoke with the media.  

While much of Monday’s press conference was about the search for Portland's next head coach and the potential candidate needing a vision for defensive improvements, Olshey also explained the team's offseason goals.  

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Despite Jusuf Nurkic discussing his uncertainty on the future with the franchise after Portland's series loss to Denver, Olshey noted that he is happy with the Blazers starting lineup and the hope is that the Blazers will retain Norman Powell in free agency. 

Four of five starters are under contract long-term or with a year left, so that’s encouraging. We made the Norman Powell trade hoping that he’d be a long-term part of our future.

Neil Olshey  

“We’ve got 80 percent of our starting lineup under contract and returning absolutely, at least [the new head coach] knows what they’re dealing with for the most part in terms of how they get this group to get to another level on the defensive end of the floor.”

With defense being a main focus once again for the Blazers, there's a need for bolstering the Blazers bench. Olshey explained how the league has plenty of roster turnover with guys “10-15.”

“There will be turnover in the roster,” Olshey explained. “Obviously, the coaching change right now is of most immediacy, preparing the owner for our potential candidates, but we’re also working concurrently on free agency, trades, and roster building in the advance of the June 20th Chicago Combine.

“I do think that our bench this year gave me a window into knowing we have to have more impact defenders coming off our bench as opposed to just more scorers.” 

As the Blazers look to improve on their depth this summer, Olshey reiterated that the Blazers are pleased with their core group.

I feel good about the foundation of the roster and clearly we need to continue to find upgrades whether it’s in the starting lineup, whether it’s in the bench, whether it’s in terms of depth. That’s what we work on every offseason.

Neil Olshey

The team’s president of basketball operations also mentioned that being in a small NBA market means there are several factors the team doesn’t control when it comes to an NBA superstar wanting or not wanting to make Portland his home.

“To date that type of opportunity hasn’t arisen,” Olshey said. “I think if you look around the league, the kind of players you guys are alluding to, unless I’m mistaken, in every instance, those players pre-determined a destination where they wanted to go or they partnered up with an existing player in that market that they wanted to join.”

We’ve pursued every opportunity to get better. If it’s three guys for one that makes us better, we would look at that. If it’s one guy for three, we would look at that.

Neil Olshey

Olshey added, "We’ll continue to try and grow and build assets. So if an opportunity came up where a player was on the market and available and wasn't pre-determining his destination, we can compete in terms of what assets we can convey to bring them to Portland.” 

“Every chance we get to build this roster to contend for a championship, we’re going to do.”