Neil Olshey Rumors
Two games in March are not going to dictate the future of a franchise, but Neil Olshey knew he had to do something at Thursday’s trading deadline after watching the Trail Blazers this week. On Sunday, the Blazers lost by 40 at home to Dallas. On Tuesday, the Blazers lost at home to a Brooklyn team without starters Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant plus key rotation player Landry Shamet. “We had to shake things up,” Olshey told The Athletic. “Things were starting to look stale.”
Some players who have been rumored to be potential buyout candidates are point guard George Hill, wing Tony Snell, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington and wing Otto Porter Jr., who is a player long desired by Olshey. Big man DeMarcus Cousins was waived last month by Houston, but a source said the Blazers will not consider him.
Some questioned why Olshey didn’t use his full allotment of roster spots in a season when COVID-19 protocol and a rapid-fire schedule could test a team’s depth. The Blazers are carrying 14 players and one two-way player when the league allows 15 and two. The answer? He was waiting for this time in the season.
Olshey loves to maintain roster flexibility, and he has that as the March 25 deadline approaches. A source says Olshey is eyeing both the buyout market and the trade front to fill the Blazers’ final roster spot with a player who will “unquestionably be in the rotation for the remainder of the season.”
Lillard and McCollum don’t just coexist on the court. They are close off it. They vacation together. Workout together. Heck, even their mothers are close. There is a depth and transparency to their relationship that is unmistakable. It’s why Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, has so staunchly rejected the idea of trading McCollum. Years ago, when asked about breaking up the backcourt, Olshey broke from his strict policy of not addressing player contracts or status. He countered with his own question: Why would he break up one of the best backcourts in the NBA?
Olshey and Harden have remained close since Harden’s youth, when both lived in Los Angeles. Olshey was an assistant coach at Artesia High, where Harden later attended after Olshey left, and when Olshey was hired by agent Arn Tellem to be a workout specialist for draft prospects, he and Harden forged a friendship that hasn’t wavered. Whether the Olshey/Harden connection is strong enough for Olshey to consider breaking up the Blazers’ backcourt buddies, and if so, whether Portland has enough assets to satisfy Houston are questions that nobody is answering.
Whether the Olshey/Harden connection is strong enough for Olshey to consider breaking up the Blazers’ backcourt buddies, and if so, whether Portland has enough assets to satisfy Houston are questions that nobody is answering. In the meantime, Lillard and McCollum on Saturday did what they have been doing for years: showing how and why two stars can co-exist. “The foundation of us being connected as a backcourt is our friendship,” Lillard said. “Me wanting the best for him and him wanting the best for me, and him supporting me and me supporting him. I just think we have a balance.”