Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Portland Trail Blazers are promoting Joe Cronin to general manager with a four-year contract. Cronin, interim GM since December, takes over franchise at a pivotal offseason and has vowed to continue building around Damian Lillard.
The next big question is whether Cronin will be making the decisions in the summer. Two prominent agents who represent front office executives told The Athletic that the Blazers have yet to reach out to any of their clients, which is not surprising considering most teams would not want their employees interviewing around the trade deadline. Cronin said he has not been told by Blazers chair Jody Allen what his future looks like. “The message has been the same, that this could take a while,” Cronin said. “The Blazers have always told me they are going to talk to other people, and I agree with them. They should. Be diligent. Research. This is an important hire. I welcome the challenge.”
But you guys aren’t looking into thinking now is the time to do an overhaul or reset for the long term? Joe Cronin: We’re looking at all different scenarios. Reset is a big word. We’re too competitive to want to do that. So it depends on what you mean by reset. ‘Reset’ meaning a long-term rebuild? Joe Cronin: No, I don’t think we have the appetite to tear it all the way down. We have too many good players and too many ways to get better without taking too big of a step back.
For those wondering whether interim general manager Joe Cronin has the agency to make a move like trading McCollum, just look at what he’s already done. The executive has already hired and terminated various figures within Portland's basketball operations, including the scouting department, public relations and medical teams. When Cronin asked permission to interview former Cavaliers executive Andrae Patterson, the job offer came one day later, sources told B/R. Patterson will have significant input in the Blazers' draft and free agency planning as an assistant general manager, with discretion to hire staffers. This Portland nucleus clearly has the authority to trade major pieces of this roster.
Simons, meanwhile, was a promising youngster who had mostly scuffled in his first three years, even as veterans trumpeted his talent and predicted stardom. Added to the expectations was the full-throttled support of Neil Olshey, the executive who drafted Simons. Olshey never backed down in his belief that Simons was the most talented player he had ever drafted, a list that included Blake Griffin, Lillard and McCollum.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Portland’s interim GM Joe Cronin is making his first significant addition to the Blazers’ front office, hiring Cleveland’s Andrae Patterson as assistant GM. Patterson has been the Cavs’ Senior Director of Basketball Ops and also spent 4 years in Utah's front office.
The Blazers recently let go of their top basketball executive, Neil Olshey, promoting Joe Cronin in the interim. While Cronin will run the team until an official hire, it's unclear if that hire will happen before the trade deadline. Sources indicate he'll have an opportunity to keep the position long-term, but Chicago Bulls general manager Marc Eversley, G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Boston Celtics vice president of player and organization development Allison Feaster are the front-runners.
Now that Cronin has moved into the big seat, their connection seems even more relevant. A first-time coach, and a first-time general manager are leaning on each other, both anchored by their deep-rooted history. “I know who he is, because I’ve known him since he was 17,” Cronin said. “And he is the same guy today as he was then. The trust is there. I know Chauncey Billups as a person, I know exactly what that is, and I’m very lucky to have him.”
Billups still shakes his head at the happenstance of it all. “I just think it speaks to Joe’s incredible character and his work ethic, and being able to keep his head down and grind and make it through time and time again,” Billups said. “I mean, nobody knows him. Until now, nobody knows him. But the people within, in the NBA circles, he is very, very highly and well thought of because of who he is. He is wicked smart.”
Sean Highkin: Joe Cronin: "One of the hardest things is to go from good to great. We've had a solid team for years, but we have a ceiling." A far cry from "the first-round exit was not a product of the roster."
Michael Scotto: In speaking with NBA executives and others around the league, some new names have come up as potential candidates to keep an eye on for Portland’s general manager opening, including Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the President of the G League, and Michael Winger, the general manager of the Clippers. Both names have come up recently, as Bleacher Report noted.
Michael Scotto: Tayshaun Prince is a name to keep an eye on. He has ties to Billups as former Pistons teammates. With the contract they gave Billups, they’re going to need to find someone who can help him make it work there. Ainge hasn’t been contacted yet, according to Dwight Jaynes. With his pedigree, he isn’t the kind of guy that’s going to interview for a position. He’s either going to be offered the job or not. He’s on a different tier than the executives compared to who’s out there based on his overall resume.
Sean Highkin: FYI: new Blazers interim GM Joe Cronin is doing his first press conference tomorrow at 10am. Dewayne Hankins (new president of business ops) and Chauncey Billups will be a part of it too.
As former president of basketball operations and GM Neil Olshey exits the Blazers, the process to hire his successor will soon be underway. Portland is deciding whether it will hire a firm to research and recommend candidates, sources said. Bert Kolde, the longtime ownership executive and right-hand man to the late Paul Allen, will direct the search again. He's hired several GMs in his tenure.
After speculation that several of Olshey's front office lieutenants could also be dismissed, there have been no other changes to Portland's basketball operations department at this time, league sources confirmed, outside of elevating longtime personnel staffer Joe Cronin to interim general manager.
It’s unlikely Eversley would jump without receiving full control in Portland. But if talks move in that direction, Eversley would be a big loss. Agents have told me Eversley has brought a different level of credibility to the organization through his previous existing relationships. He played a key role in helping the Bulls land Donovan and DeRozan among others. But for now, Bulls fans have nothing to fear. Portland’s process has just begun, and Eversley has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Bulls chief basketball executive Arturas Karnišovas.
Dwight Jaynes: Inside source told me tonight the Blazers have not even spoken to Danny Ainge about vacant GM job. Oregon native, former Blazer, won a title as GM, very experienced. To not even talk to him is ridiculous. At a crucial time for this franchise when big decisions are due.
Another pal — Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer — cited Memphis' Tayshaun Prince and San Antonio's Brent Barry as candidates. I've likewise heard that Prince is expected to receive the backing of first-year Blazers coach Chauncey Billups, which would certainly make sense given their association as championship-winning teammates in Detroit. It has been suggested that Billups, as new as he is in Portland, may well have more influence in the club's direction post-Olshey.
Hey Dame. What are your real thoughts on Neil Olshey now that he’s been fired? Damian Lillard: I have a lot of thoughts, but ya know, in short, I always had a really good relationship with Neil. He drafted me and gave me the opportunity to have the career that I've had. Ya know, it's been a great run, and it's just an all-around unfortunate situation in the business that we work in.
The Portland Trail Blazers fired president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey after an investigation into allegations that he created a toxic workplace, the organization announced Friday. A few members of the organization were informed of the decision Thursday night after a 31-point trouncing by the San Antonio Spurs, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Two strong executives expected to be considered for the vacancy are Chicago Bulls general manager Marc Eversley and New York Knicks general manager Scott Perry, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Both are basketball mavens who have been instrumental in building playoff-caliber teams, and each possesses vast relationships with players around the league.
The Trail Blazers opened an investigation into Olshey in early November with employees alleging a toxic, hostile work environment in which staff members were allegedly subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The organization enlisted the services of O’Melveny & Myers to run the independent investigation, and the firm interviewed employees, including current and former players and employees outside of personnel, at the practice facility. The investigation was originally expected to last only a few days, but was extended and lasted nearly a month.
Over Olshey's decade as the top basketball decision-maker, multiple employees asserted they had grievances with his treatment of staff in the workplace, sources said. Olshey allegedly subjected staffers to profanity-laced tirades, including former head coach Terry Stotts while Olshey sat courtside during home games, which routinely caught the attention of Blazers players. In October 2017, late team owner Paul Allen banned Olshey from watching the game inside the arena bowl after Olshey flipped off an individual from the Los Angeles Clippers after Blake Griffin nailed a game-winning 3-pointer, sources said. The incident was caught on television.
Chris Haynes: The Portland Trail Blazers have fired Neil Olshey, ending his 10-year run as the GM and president of basketball operations, league sources tell @YahooSports.
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.”
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.
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.
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.