Interview: Pritchard discusses the Blazers — part II

Transcript of an interview conducted Thursday with Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin, Ore.

On Nate McMillan’s coaching performance this year:

He’s like the juggle-master. One day he’s juggling three bowling balls. The next day, it’s five cones. And the next day … But he does it well. I think the thing that makes Nate special is, he has an amazing foundation. What he’s about, he doesn’t get out of that. That’s what he’s about; I don’t care what you say, that’s what we’re going to do. He’s unflappable that way. And, again, him and I would tell you, we don’t agree, and I love that. Shame on us if we come together every day and say, ‘This is the way it should be done, and this is the player we should go after.’ Baloney. That’s not the way you get to greater evolution and a higher knowledge in terms of your decision-making process. I’ve enjoyed our debates that we’ve had. Because, No. 1, they’ve been totally respectful. And No. 2, because I think he has a great mind. And I enjoy listening to it. I learn — every day in this building is amazing. If you come with an open mind, you learn about basketball. And for me, that’s been the best thing. I think everybody in this building sees, ‘You know what? There’s a lot of really good basketball opinions in here.’ And that’s what they are: they’re really basketball opinions. There’s no basketball truths — no. There’s a lot of ways to be successful.

On how the trade for Marcus Camby has defined the season, and how close the team came to not pulling the trigger:

It was debated. We all sat in a room and looked at each other and debated the merits. I think we felt like there was need, there was a glaring need. We put Juwan in this position (laughs) to be an anchor defensively at his age — I guess age isn’t really (relevant), because he’s playing great — I felt like it put him in a bad situation. I always felt like when I looked at the team, that I didn’t want a defeatist attitude. I didn’t want them to look at the rest of the 30 games or whatever we had left and just say, ‘We’re going to play for the young guys.’ Because we’ve been there and we’ve done that, and that’s part of our evolution, but we’re done with that. We want to compete at the highest level now. And I felt like that the way Marcus has played, this year prior to coming to us, that he was a really good player. But I had no idea he was this good. He really is a special player. For what he does in between the lines. What he does in the locker room. The way he talks to the guys. All-encompassing, I’ve been around some really good players. But he is up there. Because — and I don’t label guys — but I feel like he’s a winner. He’ll do whatever it takes. Sometimes he’ll score 10, 12 points and be an impact offensively. Other nights, he doesn’t even look to shoot the ball or score, but yet is amazingly impactful. I’ve seen his leadership affect us as much as anybody’s. If we say this is a collective responsibility — which it is — he’s taken his share. But I didn’t know he was this good. I really didn’t. I’d be lying to you if I told you that.

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