“The man was just a GM.” I’m sure that’s what representatives of the Portland Trail Blazers’ ownership group are telling themselves this morning. He was just a GM. He didn’t mean as much as a player, or a coach. He was just a guy signing paperwork and making phone calls.
But Kevin Pritchard’s dismissal at Thursday’s NBA Draft was a lot more than just the release of a GM to the fans in Portland. Pritchard had lodged himself in the community of the Blazers, in their culture. He was considered as much an asset with his trades and shrewd drafting as LaMarcus Aldridge is for his rebounding and mid-range jumper.
And if you needed evidence of how he connected with the city, nebulous ownership group? Just check the paper.
The Oregonian features, on this fine Sunday morning, a goodbye letter from Pritchard to the fans in Portland. In it, he lobs no grenades, parries no swords. Instead he thanks Paul Allen for the opportunity to work with the Blazers, thanks the fans, and says that in the end, “it’s just basketball.” It is classy and sincere and fairly honest, many of the things that Pritchard was reported not considered to be by the Blazers’ ownership collective.
Pritchard won’t be out of work long. He’s likely already fielding calls and offers. He’s aggressive, smart, and dedicated. But like he says in the goodbye letter, he’ll always be a Trail Blazer.
Of course, if I’m the Blazers, I tell the next guy not to make any deals with ol’ KP under any circumstances whatsoever, no matter how good the deal may seem. They’ve already reaped the benefits of Pritchard being one step of the game. It’s just a shame that the final step saw the rug pulled out from under him.