Trail Blazers

Blazer coach candidates must have vision of defensive improvement

Trail Blazers

If you are planning on applying for the head coaching position with the Portland Trail Blazers, you better bring a full notebook of defensive schemes to your interview.

That’s an obvious priority for getting the job and you are going to need a blueprint for what you plan to do.

“The mission is clear,” Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations said Monday in a news conference. “If we're going to take the next step, they're going to have to make an impact on the defensive end of the floor, so that will be a criteria. Whether they have benchmarks that they've hit in the past or whether we just have a belief they can make an impact on on the defensive performance that we've been looking at.”

There are differing ways to do that, but the onus will be on the candidates to show how they plan to make it happen.

“I don't want to get into coverages,” Olshey said. “Whether we want to turn people over more, increase our deflections, trap more, blitz more, be more aggressive on the defensive end or, you know, be more passive, drop on pick and rolls.

“I don't want to get into specifics like that. But like I said, I think, when the coaches interview, they will have to provide a vision as, we've got 80 percent of our starting lineup under contract and returning, so, at least they know what they're dealing with for the most part in terms of how do they get this group to get to another level on the defensive end of the floor.


“And that will clearly be critical in anybody advancing in the process -- they're going to have to prove they're going to have the ability to do that in much the same way some of the coaching hires from last summer were able to do it -- without a lot of personnel changes.”

And there is belief that a new coach can focus more on defense because of the caliber of offense the Blazers have shown.

“One of the luxuries that a coach is going to have coming in is we had either the first- or second-best offense in the league the entire year,” Olshey said. “So, they're going to inherit an elite offensive team.”