Rich Cho

Blazers surprisingly release GM Rich Cho after one year

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In a move that came as a surprise around the NBA, general manager Rich Cho was released after one season, the team announced Monday.

College scouting director Chad Buchanan will take over as the interim GM.

“The fit between Rich and our team simply wasn’t right,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller said in a released statement. “This was a tough move because I respect Rich and he’s a good person with many strong skills. But it simply wasn’t a good match.”

Um, who can get along with ownership there? Not anyone who takes a strong stand. There has been a lot of turnover of respected people in the Blazers front office the past couple of years. Kevin Pritchard helped build this Blazers roster — one that was very good but done in by knee injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden — but he was let go last summer along with right hand man Tom Penn.

The very respected Rich Cho was brought in from Oklahoma City to run the show. It’s hard to say that he did a good or bad job because the issues around Brandon Roy’s knees changed the tone of the Blazers season, but he didn’t make any transactions that were terrible. Cho made a great move to bring in Gerald Wallace at the deadline and this is a good roster, one that can be reworked to compete in the West. There are good pieces.

But Cho also was asserting himself in the organization. After Brandon Roy pleaded for more minutes through the media after Game 2 of the Blazers playoff series against Dallas, Cho reportedly asked for a suspension of Roy. It was Miller and owner Paul Allen who talked Cho out of it, but apparently that left a bad taste in their mouth. The Portland ownership does not like strong-willed general managers, and the players and coach seem to have a more stable position.

Which is bad for an organization long-term. The meek may inherit the earth but they do not become good NBA GMs.

“This decision, as difficult as it was to make, reflects our willingness to admit and recognize that things haven’t worked out,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a statement. “We’re going to be tough on ourselves in assessing what we could have done better, and then go out and find the executive who is the best fit with the needs of our franchise. That chemistry and connection is critically important.”

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.