Notebook: McMillan says that he loves his players

PORTLAND — Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan stopped the conversation and told the media to listen closely when he was asked once again about his relationship with Blazers guard Andre Miller.

“Let me say this, and I hope you guys write this, OK? Get your pens out,” said McMillan, prior to the start of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Rose Garden. “I love my players, OK? And not just current players — past players. My relationship with my players (is) important.”

McMillan and Miller engaged in a heated, expletive-filled conversation for more than 25 minutes Thursday at the team’s practice facility.

A day later, McMillan defiantly stood up for himself, Miller and the unity of his team.

Meanwhile, Miller showed off a new, upbeat attitude Friday.

“I feel fine. Coach feels fine. Players and coaches go through this stuff all the time,” Miller said. “Disagreements, agreements — that’s just a part of the business. We’re around each other like a family, and we want to keep it that way.”

Miller acknowledged that Thursday’s outburst helped clear the air between he and McMillan. Miller had questioned his role with the Blazers several times this season after being signed last summer as a free agent.

In addition, Miller and McMillan said they discussed any remaining issues during a one-on-one conversation that followed their intense argument.

“We just talked about communication,” Miller said. “For me, I’m a communicator, but I communicate in different ways — I’m not a vocal player, you know? I kind of isolate myself. We just talked about being a little bit more open.”

McMillan also opened up to his team Friday morning during a shootaround at the organization’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.

The Blazers coach apologized to his team for the blow up between he and Miller, primarily because of how he handled the situation, McMillan said.

“There are situations that I can control and I should control. And I should have handled that probably different, and I didn’t,” McMillan said. “I allowed that to get to where it was at, and I’ve controlled situations like that in the past. And I have got to do a better job in the future of doing that. So, sometimes things happen. And that was something that should’ve been handled differently.”

Back again
The Blazers re-signed forward Shavlik Randolph to a 10-day contract Friday.

Randolph was waived Tuesday by the team.

“Had we not waived him, (his contract) would have become fully guaranteed for the season,” said Tom Penn, Blazers vice president of basketball operations.

The 6-foot-10, 236-pound Randolph was originally signed by Portland on Dec. 30 with the team’s second NBA hardship exemption. He was added to the roster to provide depth at the center position — injured Blazer centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla are out for the season.

“We still need his body,” McMillan said. “Having that body for another 10 days is important for us.”

Randolph previously appeared in two games for the Blazers this season, totaling four points, a rebound and an assist in five minutes of action.

Portland’s roster now stands at 16 players.

New plans
The Blazers, Portland Winterhawks, and their development partners submitted a design concept Friday for the renovation and adaptive reuse of Memorial Coliseum.

The concept, derived from widespread community conversations, will attempt to preserve the building’s architectural integrity. In addition, it would add a community athletic center, a designated meeting and activity room for veterans, and full service restaurants to augmenting the building’s existing use as multipurpose sports-and-events center.

“This is a major step toward connecting the Rose Quarter to existing neighborhoods and developing Portland’s east side,” Blazers president Larry Miller said in a press release. “Not only does this plan preserve and enhance Veterans Memorial Coliseum, it creates new neighborhood amenities and community benefits.”

J.E. Isaac, Blazers senior vice president of business affairs, said the Blazers and Winterhawks should know if there redevelopment plan is accepted by the end of this year. The earliest date ground could be broken would be late 2011, Isaac said.

Isaac added that the successful redevelopment of the Rose Quarter could be a major financial benefit for the Blazers, a small-market franchise that loses “millions of dollars” on an annual basis.

“At the end of the year, we’d like to give (owner) Paul Allen a dollar and say, ‘Here, we made money this year,’ ” Isaac said.

Getting better

McMillan said the team “hopes” guard Steve Blake can play in Sunday’s home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, McMillan cautioned that Blake might see limited minutes even if he is able to return.

Counting Friday’s contest against the Lakers, Blake has missed four consecutive games while recovering from pneumonia.

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