Paul Allen has been through this before, watching his GM have to rebuild a team he thought was going to take steps into the elite of the NBA. It’s happened a few times.
But he’s not bitter about it, he told the media on Tuesday as Trail Blazers training camp opened. He took a very “it is what it is” attitude. Starting with not being bitter about LaMarcus Aldridge choosing to leave for the Spurs as a free agent, as reported by the Oregonian.
“I think LaMarcus had a lot of options. We went down to Dallas, Neil and I pitched him, and he chose to go a different direction. We made it to his last few choices and he was good enough to call me up and explain his decision and all that. It’s tough for a franchise, because we were all thinking that we had a real shot at getting him back. But in the end, he chose to go a different direction and now it’s a new day. We’ve moved on and I think you can feel the excitement and the energy in the gym now.”
So it’s fair to call it a rebuild?
“Rebuild. Retool. We’re bringing, I think, six players back from last year’s playoff roster, so that’s a big transition. That’s nine new players. So, yeah, it’s definitely a transition. But once you embrace that and see what these new players do — and I hope you get a sense of that as the games start here Monday — that’s exciting. And it’s going to be an exciting season for the fans.”
Allen has had success rebuilding with young stars on that other team he owns, the Seattle Seahawks. Things worked out pretty well for them. This is a different sport, and the NBA is a different animal, but Allen sees a model for success there.
It also helps when your rebuild starts around Damian Lillard.
That said, it’s going to be a big step back for the Blazers this season. GM Neil Olshey has some work to do to bring more talent in on the roster, but when Aldridge left he made the right call going for another rebuild (letting Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez and others go, plus trading Nicolas Batum). It’s all just going to take some time, and there are going to be bumps on the road trying to get there.