Nurkic describes all that has happened as “the drama,” and to a degree, he acknowledges that includes his own turmoil. For much of the early season, he was unhappy. He was frustrated with his offensive role — he thought he would get more touches, more shots — and he was anxious about his limited impact as the anchor of a defense that had dropped to last in the NBA.
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Portland has now dropped six of its last seven games. Multiple league sources with knowledge of the situation cited player frustration with Billups’ coaching demeanor and the team’s offensive system.
Damian Lillard: These mfs love drama too damn much.
Tommy Beer: “In recent weeks, sources say Lillard has grown frustrated with the team’s play and tension appears to be on the rise between the players and Billups.” sources say Lillard has grown frustrated with the team’s play and tension appears to be on the rise between the players and Billups.” OGToni3: Lmao when will y’all learn to not report this shit if @Dame_Lillard ain’t said it directly ? Damian Lillard: These mfs love drama too damn much.
Sean Highkin: Chauncey Billups: “Lack of pride, of course that bothers me. If that doesn’t bother you, there’s something going on. Sometimes it’s not your night, cool, it happens. There’s a way I’m willing to lose, and that’s not the way I’m willing to lose. It was embarrassing.”
Sean Highkin: Chauncey Billups: “Competitive fire and pride, that’s something you either have or don’t have. That’s something you can’t turn off and turn on.”
Sean Highkin: Chauncey Billups: “I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters. That s— is crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around.”
Sean Highkin: Chauncey Billups: “The young guys, they don’t know the politics of the league. But that’s something the vets should be teaching them. … I was more mad at the starters for putting [the bench] in that situation.”
NBA general managers are working to finalize the formation of a professional association that would collectively support executives with access to legal defense funds, lawyer referrals and public relations professionals, sources told ESPN. Over the past several months, the league’s GMs have formed a steering committee to create a constitution, opened an LLC and informed the league office of their intentions to form a group similar in purpose and structure to the National Basketball Coaches Association, sources said.
While these steps originated in March and predate the organizational investigation into Portland Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, that situation has further convinced front-office executives of the need for such an association, sources said. Dozens of executives told ESPN that Portland’s internal probe has stoked fears that organizations can make decisions to fire top basketball executives for any number of traditional reasons — team performance, personality conflicts, differing philosophies — and search simultaneously for ways to pursue “cause” violations in contracts.
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.
After years of unwavering loyalty, Lillard has begun acting on his frustration with Portland’s inability to return to the deeper rounds of the playoffs. His on-the-record support for Kidd was something that Blazers officials were not expecting, sources said, until it was published and broadcast on social media. When Lillard’s comments surfaced, several Portland staffers were surprised his public support was not for former Blazers assistant David Vanterpool, whom he previously endorsed for Minnesota’s head job.
Otherwise, it seems Lillard was organically involved in the Blazers’ search, which does not appear to truly have considered the “20-25 candidates” that general manager Neil Olshey asserted it would. From the beginning stages of replacing Terry Stotts, Billups was always a name that Lillard and Olshey aligned on, sources said, and the Clippers assistant has received nothing but rave reviews around the league during his first year on an NBA bench.
Jorge Sierra: FWIW: Damian Lillard liked this.
(Jusuf) Nurkic hasn’t been happy with his role there. He was asked at the end of their season if he wanted to be back next season and he replied, “In the right situation, yes.” The follow-up to that was what’s the right situation? He said, “We’ll see. I don’t know yet because this is not it.” He has a non-guaranteed $12 million salary next season and people around Nurkic think Portland is going to keep him at that salary.
Bleacher Report NBA: Dame Lillard requests meeting with Blazers’ owner Paul Allen, per @johncanzanobft Damian Lillard: His word ain’t one to follow. Dude is a clown
Lillard is a nice player. A superb offensive player. And he’s carried a Blazers roster that is marginal outside of guard CJ McCollum. But if he’s one of the five best players in the NBA, then the Blazers first-round sweep in the NBA Playoffs is a bigger catastrophe than we previously imagined. Also, it would signal that Portland GM Neil Olshey not getting Lillard a supporting cast should be elevated from sin to cardinal sin. “I hear that he is asking for another meeting,” an NBA front-office source told me on Thursday.
In fact, Lillard may have already requested a follow-up meeting with owner Paul Allen, the source indicated. Apparently, the source said, Lillard’s agent Aaron Goodwin is whispering as much. If so, great. Because Goodwin might seize on the good news and utilize Thursday’s All-NBA announcement to push that Allen-Lillard meeting into fruition.
Lillard on Tuesday confirmed an ESPN report that he met with Allen on Jan. 18 to discuss the future of the franchise. The gist of the meeting? “Very simple,’’ Lillard told NBC Sports Northwest. “What are our plans to get closer to becoming a contender?’’
Lillard on Tuesday said he would not reveal the details of his meeting with Allen, and he was vague in identifying what changed in those 13 days, when his interactions with the owner went from surface level, and then escalated to a private meeting. “Opening up the line of communication,’’ Lillard said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with communication.’’
The ESPN report says Lillard questioned some of Olshey’s moves in the meeting, including the 2015 trade of Will Barton to Denver. But Lillard on Tuesday said that is not entirely accurate. “The only thing I said about Will Barton is that he could be good on our current roster,’’ Lillard said. “Never once mentioned having an issue with the trade. That was three years ago.’’
Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard met with team owner Paul Allen to gather an understanding of the organization’s direction, league sources told ESPN. The two met discreetly for approximately one hour in Allen’s office at Moda Center prior to hosting the Indiana Pacers last Thursday, sources said. It was the first home game Allen attended in 2018.
According to sources, the meeting was held without knowledge of anyone else in the organization. Allen notified the Trail Blazers’ basketball operations and business branch afterward. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, Allen feared Lillard would request a trade, sources said, but a trade request was not made. The two-time All-Star made it clear, though, that he has championship aspirations and wanted to fulfill those lofty goals during the remaining years of his prime window.
In addition, Lillard sought an explanation from Allen as to why Will Barton was traded to Denver in February of 2015, sources said. Lillard made it known he didn’t agree with the move. Barton is a penetrating, spot-up shooter — the type of player Portland could use on the wing.
Jason Quick: Lillard on whether he addressed team after Tuesday’s loss: “I didn’t feel like it was 1 of those moments. Our coaches said enough. When it feels like we are playing without desire, I will say something. That wasn’t a moment to say more. We just had bad game”
After suffering a challenging, 115-107 loss to Milwaukee, Ezeli, in street clothes, addressed the team in the locker room with a stern speech centered on playing with urgency, sources told ESPN. And then two games later, after a crushing defeat in Memphis, Ezeli once again ventured into giving a team speech. But this time, he was cut short. McCollum interrupted Ezeli in mid-sentence and told him that was enough, sources told ESPN. Portland was in the midst of an emotionally draining December, losing 11 of 13 games. Players were desperately pouring out every ounce of effort trying to change the trajectory of the season, and being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably.
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May 28, 2022 | 6:13 pm EDT Update
Anthony Chiang: Tyler Herro (groin), Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Max Strus (hamstring), P.J. Tucker (knee) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) all again listed as questionable for Game 7. Herro looks to be the only real question mark for tomorrow.
May 28, 2022 | 5:13 pm EDT Update
Brady Hawk: Erik Spoelstra on Tyler Herro’s injury status: “He’s doing rest and treatment today. He won’t do any court work or anything today.” “We’ll see him in the morning. See the progress he’s made.” Says it’s a wait and see thing
Christos Tsaltas: Asked Erik Spoelstra on how Draymond Green’s comment motivated the Heat locker room. “I don’t know. Each person can find different forms of motivation. We have a big audacious goal that’s motivating enough”, he said. #HEATCulture