Joe Freeman: Davis has not yet met with Neil Olshey or Terry Stotts for his exit interview. What will he say when he does? "(There's) nothing on my mind I want to say. Definitely have some questions about my future and just see the feedback I can get."
“What can we do?” Lillard asked owner Paul Allen in January, when the Blazers were struggling at 23–21. “How can we improve?” Reports of the meeting prompted panic across Portland’s communal tables, understandable given the propensity of NBA headliners to flex boardroom muscles. But Lillard was not demanding a trade. “It was a simple conversation,” he insists. “It wasn’t like I asked questions and he gave answers. You don’t always have answers.” The onus fell back on the 27-year-old to produce his own help; more MacGyver, less American Hero. “I’m about to go on one,” Lillard told Young before the All-Star break, and the coach braced for another blitz. But the new version of Dame Time—or Lillard Time, whatever your preference—has not been a five- or 10- or 15-minute phenomenon. It’s spanned nearly two months.
The lieutenants who work at owner Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc. mothership have been analyzing data and asking important questions. Two NBA front-office sources said they were contacted in the last 10 days by the Vulcans and asked whether they thought Trail Blazers struggles were due to a broken roster or poor coaching. "Paul is getting antsy," one of the league sources said, "he thinks they should be winning more.
Stotts' contract runs through the end of the 2020 season at $5 million a year. General manager Neil Olshey has a contract that runs through 2021. Blowing up either the coach or the GM isn't something Allen, net worth $20.7 billion, would flinch at if he thought that would change a thing. And for some added urgency here consider that the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline is Feb. 8.
The Portland Trail Blazers have announced a contract extension for President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, taking him through the 2020-21 season. In keeping with team policy, financial terms were not disclosed.
“Neil has done an excellent job improving our team and getting us into the playoffs. With our young and improving roster, I expect our franchise to keep improving,” said Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. “Continuity in the front office is important as we continue to grow, and this extension shows the confidence we have in Neil’s leadership.”
Jay Allen: Olshey says they're still working to improve the roster. "It's always in a state of flux." @Portland Trail Blazers
Portland owns the No. 15, 20 and 26 picks in this draft, and several teams are eager to get into that mix. The Knicks have inquired about some combination of the Blazers’ picks, a source said, and those talks are ongoing. New York has the eighth pick and could trade down for a combination of picks, though the preference for the Knicks is to keep their pick and add one of Portland’s.
The Nets have inquired, too, and that could be interesting because of the Nets’ ability to absorb salary. Brooklyn stands to have about $40 million in cap space next summer, and without much to offer big-time free agents, leveraging that space to accumulate picks with bad contracts would make sense for the Nets, who will see the No. 1 pick swapped to Boston this year, and have next year’s pick sent to the Celtics, too.
Ian Begley: The Knicks have talked to the Portland Trailblazers about acquiring one of Portland's first-round picks, a source confirms to ESPN. The Knicks have workouts scheduled with at least one player pegged for a mid to late first-round pick in UNC's Justin Jackson and are looking to acquire a second first-rounder to add to the pick they currently own - the No. 8 overall pick. Portland owns the 15th, 20th and 26th overall picks. The Knicks and Blazers discussions were first reported by the Sporting News.
If you’re a team looking to add first-round picks in this year’s NBA Draft, the team to see may be the Trail Blazers, who own three first-rounders. According to multiple league sources, the Trail Blazers have been open to deals for some combination of the picks. Portland has contract commitments to 12 players next season already, and a projected salary of $133 million, which is $12 million over the league’s luxury-tax threshold. That puts the Blazers in line for $21 million in luxury tax payments.
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.
August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
The Lakers remain active in trade talks and would part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in the right deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on Sports Center (video link). Those picks “have a lot of value in the marketplace” if they’re unprotected, Wojnarowski states. He adds that L.A. would be willing to give them up in a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets haven’t been interested.
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Per several sources connected to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers have not been willing to part with significant draft capital to get off Westbrook’s contract. But that may have been tied to uncertainty surrounding James’ future, which is now put to rest.
The sense from those sources: Westbrook will have a new home when the Lakers green-light trades that include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders. What’s still unclear is whether L.A. will be willing to do so.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.