NBA Rumor: Trail Blazers Front Office

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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.”

Blazers GM Joe Cronin on trade deadline: ‘I don’t think we have the appetite to tear it all the way down’

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.

Neil Olshey thought Anfernee Simons was the most talented player he ever drafted

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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 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.”


“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.
5 years ago via ESPN

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.
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