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The pursuit of Olshey signals a possible willingness within ownership to make a significant financial commitment to hire an elite league executive. To pry Olshey, or any sitting top basketball decision-maker, Atlanta would undoubtedly have to offer draft or financial compensation to a team. Those conversations never started with the Blazers, sources said. It is unclear if Olshey would’ve had interest in discussing Atlanta’s opening with team owners. He joined the Blazers as the franchise’s top basketball executive in 2012, after leaving the Clippers.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Atlanta tried to take a big swing for Olshey, Portland’s President of Basketball Operations. Blazers ownership didn’t budge.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Hawks search is ongoing, but probing on Olshey shows a possible willingness to spend significant money for elite executives.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Atlanta requested the opportunity to talk with Portland GM Neil Olshey about its vacant GM job, but was denied permission.
Do you envision talking to Jusuf about a contract extension? Neil Olshey: I haven’t even thought about it, honestly. Everybody’s a little raw. It was a weird ride, right? He kinda came in out of nowhere. He blew up and then got hurt. We gotta get guys healthy first and then get them all back in the gym and again see what we have. But I don’t talk about contract negotiations. Even when you saw some of the guys last year whether it was Moe or Meyers, when we had deals done, we had deals done. But it didn’t play out in the media and it really wasn’t public.
Former GM Kevin Pritchard commented after he was unceremoniously fired in 2010 that when you’re hired by Allen you have a ticking clock dangling from your neck, counting down the minutes. Olshey must hear the tick. He knows the salary and title came with an expiration date, one that feels a couple of cycles away. Olshey’s hair isn’t built for rain. Also, he knows how this ends. So the hunch here is that Portland isn’t his forever place. And you just can’t built winning culture while simultaneously posturing for the rest of the league’s owners.
Within the Lakers’ new top circle of power, another sitting general manager who has been a significant source of intrigue for the freshly vacant L.A. general manager job: Portland’s Neil Olshey, league sources said. Olshey is a two-time runner-up for NBA Executive of the Year, including 2016 with the Blazers and 2011 as Clippers general manager after beating out the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul.
The Feb. 23 trade deadline is fast approaching and, naturally, fans are curious if there will be more movies. Can you speak to that? Olshey: Well, we’re active. You know I think this roster was always going to be a work in progress. We have the benefit of having Paul Allen as an owner. He let us retain all of our players. It wasn’t realistic to think we could manage that cap going forward. But what it did do is it put us in a position to keep as much as possible, put us in a position to compete, but knowing at some point we’re going to have to make some moves. I think Mason is an example of that. It’s not a player we wanted to lose. But the reality is from a cap standpoint we needed to go average down the salary but maintain our ability to compete, you know, now and in the future with not losing someone at that position. I can’t speak to any specifics, but what I can tell you is the league is very active right now.
Why trade Mason Plumlee and why right now? Olshey: Well, you know, look Mason’s impending free agency was certainly a factor. We love Mason. We’re going to miss him around here. We wouldn’t have been in the second round of the playoffs last year without him. But there’s certain realities to managing our (salary) cap. We felt like we needed to get younger at the center position. We wanted more of a low post player, someone that could defend size, strength. We found that with Jusuf. And, look, this is the hard part of the business is you have guys that you get attached … but you’ve got to make business decisions. We felt like in the long run this will pay longer dividends, having a young guy on a rookie scale (contract). We manage our cap with it. He gives us a different look defensively. He’s a big time rebounder. And I think he’ll make the game easier for guys like Dame (Lillard) and CJ (McCollum) because we’ve got more presence in the paint now defensively.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been a part of the always-churning rumor mill for weeks, as a swath of Rip City has been pining for an upgrade as the team has underachieved over the first 27 games of the season. But it would be unwise to expect a deal anytime soon. The Blazers, according to rival front office executives, are right to be included in the rumors — they are expected to be active in trade talks leading up to the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline. But activity doesn’t always translate to action and swinging a deal for a quality frontcourt player, arguably the Blazers’ biggest need, is complicated.
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May 26, 2017 | 10:03 am EDT Update
Suns sources continue to deny that there is a lot of interest in moving Bledsoe, but eventually, the team has to embrace their youth, which is why so many opposing teams believe Bledsoe can be had.
As much as fans in Philadelphia want the former third overall pick Jahlil Okafor moved, there is talk that the 76ers are not as eager to dump him. But there is a sense the 76ers would move Okafor in trade. The question is what does he return?
The Nuggets have all kinds of options, but there is a sense in NBA circles that the right offer for Barton would get real consideration, especially considering the Nuggets have so much depth to manage as things stand, swapping out Barton, drafting a new young guy and getting value in the moves might be smarter in the long run.
“I’m just at peace with myself; I’m at peace with myself as a basketball player, most importantly,” Durant told USA TODAY Sports recently. “I think this move, and the criticism that comes with this move, has made me zero in on what’s the most important thing, and that’s just playing basketball, working out every day, getting better, enjoying every single day as a basketball player. It made me really appreciate that. It made me go back to that. When you listen to the nonsense, then you start to really let it take control of your thoughts, that’s (not good), you know what I’m saying? So I just got back to the game.”
It certainly helps that Durant, who used to routinely respond to fan criticism on Twitter, has taken the minimalist approach to social media. He deleted his Instagram page and checks his Twitter mentions no more than once a month. YouTube has become his favorite platform. Durant has his own channel that offers a look at his life on the court and even inside his home. Like so many elite athletes today, he loves having creative control. But as Durant learned the hard way early on, he has no jurisdiction inside the road arenas where the noise and negativity knows no bounds.
How would you describe what this season has meant to you? KD: It was definitely a different year. I mean, I never felt under a microscope this much. I never felt … how can I put it? I never felt this many people just waiting on me to [mess] up. Whether it’s on the court, off the court, waiting on something. But it’s fun, because it’s been cool proving a lot of people wrong, individually. I mean, obviously, we have a long way to go as a team. But I just feel like I’m still the same the person. I work extremely hard. I know a lot of people say I cheated my way … or I skipped steps, or cheated the game. I work hard, bro. I work hard. I really take my craft seriously. If I didn’t do that then I would understand. But I love the game, I love playing for my teammates.
And lastly, what would a ring mean for you? KD: It wouldn’t mean my life was complete. I’ve got a lot of life I want to lead and I’ve got a lot of [expletive] I want to achieve. So if I win a ring, it would be fun to experience that moment when the buzzer sounds and embracing my teammates in the locker room and all that stuff that comes with it, but after that, what’s next? That’s how I look at it. What’s next for me? But it’s that high. It’s that two-, three-week high, I can tell.