As the Trail Blazers were enduring a tumultuous offseason this summer, sources say McGowan was biting his tongue behind the scenes. Stotts was fired as coach. Franchise star Lillard was upset with the direction of the team after a first-round playoff defeat. And a candidate to replace Stotts, the eventually hired Billups, had a controversial past.
Neil Olshey, the top executive on the basketball side, is under investigation for creating a hostile work environment. The top executive on the business side, Chris McGowan, revealed on Friday that he resigned on Nov. 1, telling The Athletic later in the day that “there’s a lot of things that led to this” and “I know zero about the investigation.”
During this volatile time, the face and the voice of the franchise was Olshey. His messaging was not only falling flat, it was aggravating the fanbase and sponsors. Olshey was abrasive, combative and shuffled the blame to others besides himself. In June, shortly after Olshey told reporters the team’s failings were not a result of the roster he constructed, sources say McGowan asked Allen to let him become the voice of the franchise. McGowan didn’t want to run the basketball operations, he wanted to control the messaging. He was rebuffed.
The franchise is currently investigating Olshey for allegedly creating a toxic and hostile work environment. Staff members allege intimidation, profanity-laced tirades and bullying, sources said.
After interviewing employees at the practice facility late last week, O’Melveny & Myers — the firm enlisted to investigate the claims — extended its investigation to interviewing individuals outside of personnel at the practice facility, including former and current employees, sources said. That process was expected to last a few weeks before a ruling on Olshey's future. Olshey, 56, joined the Trail Blazers in 2012 after a stint with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Vertical: Dewayne Hankins has been promoted to president of the Portland Trail Blazers, sources tell @Chris Haynes.
Chris Haynes: Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan has informed the franchise that he’s resigning, league sources tell @YahooSports.
Howard Beck: If Neil Olshey winds up getting forced out, do not be surprised to hear Danny Ainge, his name connected to that job. I don't know if Danny would take it. But I would expect Danny Ainge to be in the mix for a vacancy in Portland.
Shams Charania: Statement from the Trail Blazers on the investigation into President/GM Neil Olshey. pic.twitter.com/oJ3eDlP9wK
The Portland Trail Blazers opened an investigation into Neil Olshey — the president of basketball operations — with employees alleging a toxic, hostile work environment where staff members have been subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Portland Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have launched an investigation into president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey, The Athletic has learned. The team is hiring a firm to probe alleged workplace misconduct.
The organization enlisted the services of O’Melveny & Myers to run the independent investigation, and the firm began interviewing employees of the team’s front office off-site this week, with several staffers expressing the relief because of the investigation after 10 years of mistreatment leading to mental and physical stress, sources said.
When contacted about the investigation on Friday night, the Trail Blazers told The Athletic: "We don't have a comment on this matter at this time." Allen also declined to comment to The Athletic on Friday night.
Olshey, 56, was hired by the franchise in 2012. Over his decade as the top basketball decision-maker, multiple employees assert to have had multiple grievances with his treatment of staff in the workplace, sources said. Furthermore, several staff members raised concerns with the organization’s “mishandling” after the death of former video coordinator Zach Cooper in April 2020, sources said.
The firm is shortly expected to submit its findings to team owner Jody Allen, and a decision on Olshey’s future will be determined soon after, sources said. Most staff members are hopeful that the investigation brings change after feeling voiceless and unheard for so long, sources said.
Neil Olshey: The Blazers leader and former Clippers executive is originally from Flushing. According to sources, Olshey has never been enamored living in a small-market town. He was once an aspiring soap-opera actor and has the flair to run the Knicks.
Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has reached a contract extension that lengthens his deal through the 2023-24 season, the team announced Friday. Olshey has constructed a perennial Western Conference playoff team in his seven seasons, including consecutive years as a third seed and the franchise's first conference finals berth in 19 years.
We can connect some dots and land on one executive whose team is still in the playoffs: Golden State assistant general manager Larry Harris. As for the rumor mill, one name stands out: Neil Olshey. Numerous sources told NBC Sports Washington of the Wizards’ interest in Blazers President of Basketball Operations, the architect behind the Portland squad that reached the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
A new figure has emerged to lead the Trail Blazers in the wake of owner Paul Allen’s passing: his sister, Jody Allen. The Athletic has learned that Ms. Allen has been decisive in ruling on a variety of major decisions for the team, which as of now, she has no intention of selling. “Nothing is for sale right now,” said Chris McGowan, the Blazers president and CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, which also includes the Seattle Seahawks. “We are operating business as usual and Neil and I are collaborating regularly with her on all major organizational decisions.”
The Blazers were presented with a minor trade earlier this season, during which Ms. Allen gave the go-ahead, but the deal never materialized. That exercise sheds light on what some are calling a seamless and fluid hierarchy within the Blazers, which was in doubt when Allen passed away on Oct. 15 from complications from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The established line of power — McGowan and Olshey reporting to Ms. Allen (which also includes Olshey and McGowan working with Bert Kolde, Allen’s right-hand man and director of the Blazers’ board) — becomes even more important as Saturday marks the first red-letter date in the NBA season: the first day players who were signed in the summer can be traded. “Jody has empowered me and Neil to do our jobs,” McGowan said. “She makes the final decisions, but there has been no handcuffs … she has been a quick decision maker.”
Jason Quick: @Kenneth A. This is what I will say about trades: Olshey, and I truly believe this, is always looking to improve the roster. Always. He might have some players he won't let get away (Dame, CJ, Collins) but he is always open and looking to make the team better.
Joe Freeman: The family of Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has announced that his sister Jody Allen has been appointed executor and trustee of his estate. Here’s a statement from her: pic.twitter.com/BqAnzYcV9Y
Joe Freeman: Does Damian Lillard expect big changes this summer? "I’m not sure. I’m not the guy making decisions. It’s a great organization. I think everyone has done a great job. Coach Stotts has done a great job since Day 1. We’ve been in the playoffs five years straight."
Joe Freeman: CJ McCollum on coach Terry Stotts: "I think he’s done a terrific job with what he’s been given."
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 16, 2022 | 2:22 am EDT Update
Chris Haynes: Minnesota Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert will face the Utah Jazz for the first time on Oct. 21 in Minnesota and will return to Utah for the first time as an opponent on Dec. 9, league sources tell @YahooSports.
Marc Stein: The Knicks are scheduled to be in Dallas for former Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson’s return to Big D on Dec. 27, league sources tell me, two days after New York hosts Philadelphia on Christmas. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Sean Cunningham: The Sacramento Kings will be opening the 2022-23 NBA season on the home court of Golden 1 Center against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 19th, according to sources. @CarmichaelDave first to report.
Windhorst went on to say the Nets aren’t coming off asking for a big return for Durant in a trade. And that Brooklyn has no leverage with other teams, same as Durant has no leverage with the Nets. “I think what we have here is really a study of leverage. First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there,” said Windhorst. “Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets. He is asking for things: ‘Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.’ He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.”
When it comes to Simmons, his unique skill set is incredibly enticing, but his best ability will be availability. Fortunately, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, that won’t be a problem for Simmons in 2022-23: “You and Kyrie and Ben Simmons — who, by the way, news flash here. I ran into Ben Simmons. He and I had a nice conversation … I support the brother. I had a problem with him not playing. That’s the past. He’s ready to go. He swears he’s ready to go.”