Blazers GM Pritchard on Outlaw, Miller, defense and state of the team

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard spoke Tuesday about the loss of Travis Outlaw, the state of the Blazers, the team’s defense, and the addition of Andre Miller.

Pritchard on the loss of Travis Outlaw to a foot injury, how that will affect the team’s rotation, and whether the Blazers will be forced to look elsewhere in the effort to replace what he added to the team:

Well, we built this to have some depth. We have a rookie, Dante (Cunningham) that can play there, and then we have an experienced guy in Juwan (Howard). And you’re looking at a guy that’s playing 10-12 minutes; this isn’t a huge (loss) in terms of just playing time, although Travis played some (small forward). We have 3 covered. Martell (Webster) has got to play, and then Rudy (Fernandez) will play more there, Brandon will slide over. So, we’ve got that. It is the back up 4, like you said, and we owe Dante and Juwan some time to see how they do. And I know Nate feels like that they worked hard, they’re prepared, and they’ll get in. But you don’t just replace Travis Outlaw. He’s a special talent. And we’ve got to identify how long he’s going to be out first, and then make some judgments.

On Outlaw’s versatility, ability to create mismatches, and standing in the league as one of the premier back up forwards:

There’s no question. He’s a very talented scorer, and he’s one of those guys that will make big shots at the right time. And those (players) aren’t just laying around. And we’ve always appreciated him. I don’t know if it makes us appreciate him more, but we’ve always appreciated what he’s done.

On what he sees in the team after 12 games:

I still think it’s too small of a sample size to really get a good gauge. Twelve games: You know, there’s been a couple games where I thought we had a chance to win, and a couple games we won where things went in for us. So, I still think it’s too early, especially when you’re talking about 12 out 82 — I don’t know what percentage that is; 15 percent? I’m not sure in 12 games you can have a pure handle. That’s why when they come out with the statistical rankings on ESPN or wherever, there’s always a high degree of variability still.

On how point guard Andre Miller is meshing with the team:

One of things that we’re really happy about with the team is that, defensively, we have seen an improvement. Again, it’s a small sample size, so we always caution on that. But in that defensive efficiency, we’re among the top-five, -six teams in the league, which is an improvement. And I think Andre has a lot to do with that, but I also think it’s the team commitment. But Andre, he’s a good quarterback on the defensive end. There’s the one thing that we really like; his ability to talk and get people to communicate and the team to communicate is a great thing for us.

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