Steve Clifford and Elston Turner, you are excused.
The drawn out Portland Trail Blazers coaching search is down to two men — former Hawks head coach Terry Stotts and recent Blazers coach Kalab Canales. That according to Jason Quick at the Oregonian.
Canales and Stotts will interview with Blazers owner Paul Allen once he returns from the Olympics in London.
Now, if one were cynical, one would note that both coaching finalists are clients of agent Warren LeGarie, same as GM Neil Olshey. But I’m sure that was a coincidence. That kind of favoritism would never otherwise happen in the NBA. Never.
Whoever takes over gets to coach an interesting rebuilding project in a bike-friendly, microbrew-loving town.
This was a fast 360.
First rumors circulated that Clippers general manager Neil Olshey had met with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen about that franchise’s open general manager’s position. The Clippers responded by talking to Olshey and announcing last week they had reached a “deal in principle” with him to stay in Los Angeles.
But that deal was not solid.
Late Monday news came that the Clippers and Olshey were parting ways. Half an hour later came the report that he was going to be the new GM of the Portland Trail Blazers. (Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN seemed to be first with this.)
Olshey has not said why, but it is known he was one of the lowest-paid GMs in the league in Los Angeles (making a reported $250,000) and whatever he’s making now will be a whole lot more, (more than double at least). That said, you can be sure he will say it was not the money. Of course. It never is.
This is a great hire for Portland, a loss for the Clippers.
Olshey helped turn around the culture of the Clippers, he swung the Chris Paul trade and also brought in veterans for the team like Caron Butler, Mo Williams and Chauncey Billups. The Clippers were as lost as any NBA franchise and Olshey is part of the reason they are now considered up and coming contenders.
Soon he will take over in Portland where they have All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, solid role players such as Nicolas Batum, two lottery picks this year and a lot of cap room to go after free agents. Interim GM Chad Buchanan did an excellent job and was rumored to be back in the running
The Clippers need to now find a GM to help this franchise continue its trajectory. Whichever GM comes in will have Vinny Del Negro as his coach and needs to convince free agent to be Chris Paul that he needs to stay after next season. Blake Griffin will get a max deal offer from whoever gets the job.
One thought — Jeff Bower is available and was the GM for the Hornets when Chris Paul was there. They already have a relationship. Bower is reportedly still in the mix for the Orlando job, but he might be swayed. But will the notoriously frugal owner Donald Sterling pay up for a top flight GM?
This was not a good season to be a Blazers fan. They went into the season as a dark horse contender and ended it as a team that is rebuilding from the front office to the roster.
Owner Paul Allen admitted in an open letter to fans it was his toughest year of the 24 he owned the team.
In the letter, Allen talks about a few things, but one he makes clear is that he’s not selling the team.
Let me be clear and repeat what I’ve said before: The team is not for sale. I’m working hard to get this team back on track. No offers have been made to buy the team and none have been solicited. As I told reporters in the Rose Garden in December, there could come a time when I decide to sell the Trail Blazers. Many factors would go into that decision, including my health, the team’s economics, and the progress I can see on the court. (On the first item: I’m feeling good these days and have remained in remission for two years.)
Allen then walks through the decisions to reshape the team from earlier this year — the firing of Nate McMillan, the search for a GM and how they move the team forward.
Going into next season, it’s a priority for us to improve defensively, to play better and more consistently, and to win on the road.
One thing we are not going to do is to spend money like there is no tomorrow, and calls to do so just don’t make sense. I’ve tried that path before — it doesn’t work and is not sustainable. We will follow a judicious and sustainable path going forward.
The Blazers are well positioned to move forward — they have LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, a number of picks, cap space and room to maneuver. Flexibility is a good thing, but doing something good with it is another issue. Questions remain about what is the road map for the future and who is drawing it?
Allen doesn’t give us any great insights in the letter, but Blazers fans may want to read it to see where his mind is. It’s a nice look at the past. The thing that matters more is future actions.