Of the five teams with payrolls over the luxury-tax line – Warriors, Cavaliers, Thunder, Wizards and Trail Blazers – Portland has the worst record. The Trail Blazers are barely on pace reverse a three-year run of declining records – from 54-28 to 51-31 to 44-38 to 41-41 to 17-16.
That could be bad news for president Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts.
The lieutenants who work at owner Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. mothership have been analyzing data and asking important questions. Two NBA front-office sources said they were contacted in the last 10 days by the Vulcans and asked whether they thought Trail Blazers struggles were due to a broken roster or poor coaching.
“Paul is getting antsy,” one of the league sources said, “he thinks they should be winning more.”
But Allen has shown a willing to spend. I understand why he wouldn’t be content with just fine.
Allen’s financial commitment would probably extend to ousting Olshey and/or Stotts if the owner deems it helpful. Allen has a particularly quick trigger on firing front-office chiefs, and Olshey has already lasted longer than most of his predecessors.
The Trail Blazers are still paying for their 2016 signings. Olshey is hamstrung by his previous mistakes, and there’s only so much Stotts can do with this roster.
Still, Portland is a likely playoff team. Firing Stotts threatens to upend that without providing much more upside this season. Firing Olshey before the trade deadline would carry more logical timing, but his résumé suggests maybe he should get an opportunity to clean up his own mess.
There’s no easy answer here – just an “antsy” owner. Even if Stotts and Olshey survive the season, this could foretell an offseason shakeup.