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.
The Blazers’ investigation into president of basketball operations Neil Olshey appears to be in its final stages. The law firm conducting the investigation interviewed Olshey earlier this week, per SNY sources. The firm has interviewed scores of people during its investigation into Olshey and the workplace environment during his Blazers tenure. Olshey is owed more than $12 million on his current contract, per SNY sources.
Jason Quick: Neil Olshey, according to a source, is not interested in making a deal or a buyout settlement and is fighting for his job amid accusations he has fostered a hostile work environment.
Jason Quick: Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is scheduled to be interviewed in next week by investigators from O’Melveny and Myers. The investigation was supposed to be finished by Nov. 5, but after interviewing more than 60 people the deadline was extended.
A few current Portland Trail Blazers players were contacted for interviews during the investigation into the toxic and hostile work environment claims against team president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Up to this point, the investigation centered on former and current staffers. O’Melveny & Myers, the firm enlisted by the Trail Blazers to investigate, will ask the players about their experiences working with Olshey, sources said.
Since the investigation became public late last week, Olshey was at the practice facility every day this week among employees who issued complaints against him, sources said. There was an internal belief a ruling on Olshey’s future would be announced Friday morning when staffers received an early morning email titled “Blazers Business Operations Update,” sources said.
During his 10-year tenure, there was never an official complaint filed to human resources against Olshey until recently, sources said. The investigation into Olshey is expected to conclude in a few weeks, sources said.
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.
Chris Haynes: Former Blazers player/coach Dan Dickau (@dandickau21) speaks out on Neil Olshey, detailing experience being cursed out, humiliated & gaslighting. Dickau also reveals common knowledge: Former GM Chad Buchanan the one who zeroed in on Damian Lillard predraft https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-iso-with-dan-dickau/id1520764902?i=1000541151012&at=1l3vwYf
The Portland Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have begun their investigation into president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, hiring an independent firm to probe alleged workplace misconduct. The investigation has included interviews with staff in recent days, multiple individuals who spoke to investigators have told The Athletic.
The investigation into Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey allegedly creating a hostile work environment has been extended, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Previously expected to wrap up shortly, the investigation could last a few weeks before a ruling on Olshey’s future is determined, sources said. Employees of the practice facility were interviewed on Thursday and Friday.
Sean Highkin: Damian Lillard: "It was news to me. I came across it like everybody else did. But that's all I know about it, that there's an investigation. ... The best way to lead is to focus on leading the team. We play basketball. My job is to be the point guard. Our jobs continue."
Sean Highkin: Jusuf Nurkic on Neil Olshey and the investigation: "All I know is what's in the release. I can't really say anything else. As far as relationship, I don't think we have one. It's professional. That's it."
Olshey is accused of bullying and intimidating employees and subjecting them to profane tirades, team sources confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive. One long-time Trail Blazers staff member called Olshey’s act “petty and vindictive.” Another said the GM fostered a work environment so toxic that some quit and others sought professional help for psychological trauma.
Olshey, 56, has been on the job in Portland for a decade. We’ve all seen the bully act up close at news conferences. I’ve been subject to a couple of his profane tirades. Once Olshey pulled me aside and blistered me on an opening night. He threatened to revoke my media credential and never speak to me again. Why? Because a few months earlier I wrote in a column that he’d played a round of golf at the Oswego Lake Country Club. Olshey was furious and said it made him appear lazy. “Was the column wrong?” I asked. “(Expletive) you,” Olshey shot back.
Olshey has regularly bullied media members. He threw ex-coach Terry Stotts under the bus at the end of last season. One former basketball operations staff member told me he was berated and threatened by Olshey for circumventing the GM one summer. The staffer sent a note to McGowan inquiring about a job opening on the business operations side. “Neil called and just lit me up,” the former employee said. “It was just F-bombs and Neil said if I ever did it again I’d never work in the league again.”
Said a second former staff member who is no longer working in the NBA: “Neil was a nightmare. I got out. I’m so much happier.”
Everybody around the Trail Blazers knows Neil Olshey has a terrible temper. Everybody. Including Olshey himself. The Portland general manager in 2012 didn’t hire a coach for fear he would clash with his own temper. And after a public outburst at referees in 2017, the Trail Blazers’ top executive couldn’t trust himself to watch a game courtside because of his temper.
Olshey swears a lot. He rants often. And he has little patience for incompetence. Catch him at the wrong time and all three of these traits can manifest into a red-faced, vein-popping tornado of anger. For the past 10 years, the norm around the Trail Blazers has been to check the Olshey weather forecast: Bad mood? Best to steer clear of the storm. “He will talk to you however he wants and treat you however he wants. People literally avoid walking his way in the office,” a former employee said.
But as much as Olshey loved Malone’s basketball mind, and his leadership qualities, there was a catch: Malone was a firecracker, unafraid of confrontation or of speaking his mind. Just like Olshey. “I loved Michael,” Olshey once said. “But there was no way two hot-headed Irish Catholics from New York like us could work together. We would kill each other.”
Keep in mind that there are a legion of Blazers employees who swear by him. One longtime employee who has connections to the Blazers’ 1977 championship season reveres Olshey, comparing him to former NBA commissioner David Stern: firm, fair, demanding and exceedingly smart. Other longtime staffers who have been around before Olshey’s arrival say the culture and feeling of being part of a team have never been stronger. Coach Chauncey Billups, who has known Olshey for more than 10 years, said he has never experienced or heard of misconduct by Olshey.
Sean Highkin: Chauncey Billups on the Vulcans’ investigation into Neil Olshey: “Obviously, it’s an unfortunate time. All I know is what I’ve read. There’s not much more I can say about it. I think it caught a lot of people off guard.”
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.
January 28, 2022 | 10:01 pm EST Update
Sarah K. Spencer: Wow. Hawks beat the Celtics, 108-92, and are now on a six-game win streak. They move to 23-25, inching closer to .500. Lead got down to 1 early in the fourth, but the Hawks buckled down and responded with clutch plays. Had 10 blocks, 10 steals, just 10 turnovers.
Jim Owczarski: Forgot to note that Lindell Wigginton exited the league’s health and safety protocol the other day for the #Bucks