Larry Miller Rumors
The National Basketball Players Association reached out to former Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller, now president of Jordan Brand, to gauge his interest in their vacant executive director position, a league source informed CSNNW.com. According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the search, said Miller politely declined to entertain the proposition, being that “he’s extremely happy in his current role.”
The Trail Blazers were floundering. Lopsided losses were becoming the norm. A promising season was teetering toward a free-fall. Coach Nate McMillan, the man who helped usher Portland past the Jail Blazers era and became the bedrock of a turbulent organization, had lost his team. Sensing the collapse and fearing the worst, McMillan asked then-President Larry Miller for a meeting to discuss the future. “I talked with Larry about where I felt the organization was at and what I thought they needed to do,” McMillan says. “They needed to look at rebuilding before that thing crumbled. And they needed to look at everything, including the head coaching position. With some guys, I knew it wasn’t part of their plan to be there. We had two of our core players — Brandon (Roy) and Greg (Oden) — basically retire. So I told him that he needed to get something for the guys we had, he needed to look at redoing this whole thing before it crumbles.”
While Williams will forever be linked to Sloan his apparent role in the coach’s resignation, which became clearer with Miller’s account, the Jazz CEO said the two landmark events “were very separate.” Last week, Sloan rejoined the Jazz as a senior basketball adviser. Miller said he has spent time with Sloan in the last several weeks and has observed “that he is very glad to be back with us in that official capacity.”
In his first detailed explanation of the night Sloan resigned, Miller, the CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, said Sloan and Williams argued over the final play of the half in a home game against the Chicago Bulls. “Jerry said, ‘If you’re going to change the play, it would be nice if you’d let the rest of the team know so we’ve got a chance at scoring,’ or something like that,” Miller said. “He kind of reprimanded Deron and Deron said, ‘My bad.’ ” Miller added: “If he would have left it right there, Jerry may have never left.”
The Trail Blazers hired Chris McGowan as president on Monday. He replaces Larry Miller, who replaced Steve Patterson, who replaced Bob Whitsitt. Also, McGowan will work alongside general manager Neil Olshey, who replaced Rich Cho, who replaced Kevin Pritchard, who replaced Patterson, who replaced John Nash, who replaced Whitsitt. Point is, it hasn’t felt easy to explain around here since Whitsitt left, has it? The hope here isn’t that McGowan will walk on water, or help a basketball team that feels headed to another NBA Draft Lottery find a miracle way out of this mess. Rather, the hope is that McGowan can work closely enough with Olshey to end the convoluted decade of madness and again make the basketball, not the business (or some gobbled combination) feel like it’s driving the bus again.
Why do GMs hire their agent’s other clients instead of best coaching candidate available? Peter Vecsey: We know we don’t like it. It’s been happening for years. It’s not only Warren LeGarie and Olshey, it’s Arn Tellem. That’s where he started, as a workout guy. Arn Tellem has been pushing him. Warren has got a cult going or something, the way these GMs, presidents and owners listen to him. It’s fascinating that he’s able to get one of his clients into Portland with what went on with Kevin Pritchard. Your listeners are well aware of that. I believe I was the one who broke that story about how it happened. They ended up getting fired because the line to the owner and the owner’s right hand guy, they tried to usurp Miller and maybe it’s worked. Maybe that’s why Miller left. I don’t know Miller but maybe he left because they weren’t listening to him any more. I don’t know.
NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) today announced that Larry Miller will rejoin Nike as President of the Jordan Brand. Miller will be responsible for driving the global growth strategy for all aspects of the Jordan Brand and will report directly to Trevor Edwards, Vice President Global Brand and Category Management for Nike. Miller replaces Keith Houlemard, who will now lead the company’s future worldwide Olympic efforts as General Manager where he will be responsible for driving category and brand management strategies supporting key sports marketing partnerships and business across the globe. Miller, 61, most recently served as President of the Portland Trail Blazers. From 1999 to 2006, Miller served as President of the Jordan Brand and prior to that position, he served as Vice President and General Manager of Nike Basketball, where he managed operations for Jordan, Nike Basketball and Converse.
Miller’s resignation doesn’t come as a shock to those following the plot line. The hiring of Olshey, whose style isn’t in any form compatible with Miller, was telling. I wrote a column before the Olshey hiring pointing out that Miller was pushing hard for former Pacers executive David Morway. When Miller lost that fight, he faded, and ultimately checked out, smack in the middle of free agency. For Blazers fans, Miller mostly is going to be remembered as the president who walked the 100-level concourse before games, shaking hands. He could be a pleasant guy, but he was a proponent of business before he was ever supporting basketball. The general managers who worked with Miller found him unwilling to fight on behalf of the on-court product. Olshey can only reach his potential if he’s paired with a basketball-minded president who will say “Nope” in marketing and sponsorship meetings and put the focus back on the game. I say this knowing that my access to players for interviews might be more challenging under that philosophy.
Ben Golliver: “I’m not sure what [Miller] hangs his hat on as he leaves,” league source says. “They’re worse on the court and Brandon cost a ****load.”
Rick Bonnell: I’m told Miller played a behind-the-scenes role in Rich Cho joining #Bobcats, after Paul Allen abruptly fired Cho.
Miller, 61, had two years remaining on his contract with the Blazers, but he informed owner Paul Allen of his resignation on Friday. Miller we rejoin Nike later this summer as president of Brand Jordan, the same title he held from 1999 through 2006. “It felt like it is the right time, and the right thing for me,’’ Miller said Saturday morning.
Cho won’t say anything bad about the Blazers or owner Paul Allen, but he can’t help but feel bitter. What began with such promise after a four-hour interview on a yacht in Helsinki ended with a phone call from President Larry Miller telling him it was over almost before it started, with little or no explanation. “It wasn’t the right fit,” Cho says. “I’m in a great place now.”
Blazers president Larry Miller on Neil Olshey hiring: “We spent a lot of time making sure we found the right person. I’m excited we’ve been able to do that with Neil Olshey. Neil comes to us with the Los Angeles Clippers where he’s had the opportunity to build an incredible team down there…. Probably no one is more excited than I am. I’ve been tired of going through this process and getting hit with questions.”
Trail Blazers’ president, Larry Miller, told CSNNW.com, Buchanan wouldn’t necessarily have to interview for the general manager position if they decided to hand the job to him because they feel they have a grasp of what Buchanan is capable of.
Olshey, the Clippers’ vice president of basketball operations, is one of three candidates known to have interviewed with owner Paul Allen for Portland’s GM position. Allen tweeted Wednesday that he has interviewed four candidates.
Nothing substantial to report. The Blazers have indicated to The Oregonian’s Jason Quick that president Larry Miller won’t be making public comment until the GM search is over. Quick was onto this Jackson thing very early and is tracking it.
Chris Haynes: #Blazers president Larry Miller says owner Paul Allen interviewed 3 GM candidates out of the country & 1 in the states. There is 4 finalist.
Everyone picks a favorite horse in a race, and so it seems the same thing has happened in this Blazers search. David Morway, the general manager of the Indiana Pacers, is believed by many to be the favored candidate of Blazers president Larry Miller. Meanwhile, if you believe insiders, Allen confidante Bert Kolde is pushing for Los Angeles Clippers general manager Neil Olshey.