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Rumor: If Olshey is fired as Portland GM, Danny Ainge could get long look

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Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey is on the hot seat. The owner of the franchise, Jody Allen, opened an investigation into the working environment in the front office, with reports of intimidation, bullying, and profanity-laced tirades making it a toxic work environment. In an ominous sign for Olshey, the law firm investigating the situation asked for more time and to talk to former employees of the team, suggesting they had found something.

Nothing is decided. Allen said in a statement her next actions would be based on what the investigation finds.

That has not stopped the “who would be next in Portland?” rumor mill from churning around the NBA. On the Crossover Podcast, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated suggested former Celtics GM Danny Ainge would get a look (hat tip Real GM).

If Portland does move on from Olshey, there is an expectation that former Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge could be a target to run the team’s basketball operations. Ainge retired from Boston’s front office at the end of the 2021 season and has remained a consultant to Brad Stevens and the Celtics…

Ainge is from Oregon, having grown up in Eugene. Ainge was a three-sport star at North Eugene High School. Ainge garnered first-team All-American honors in football, basketball and baseball.

Understand this is speculation, Ainge is from Oregon and is available, so the dots have been connected. That’s very different from him wanting or accepting the job.

If Olshey is removed — and that remains a big “if” no matter what it looks like from the outside — the new GM in Portland will have a lot on his plate. Damian Lillard, the face of the franchise, pushed for Oshey and the front office to be more aggressive in building a contender, and rather than revamp the roster they brought in a controversial hire in new coach Chauncey Billups. That satisfied Lillard (at least for now), but teams are still watching to see if things change. A new GM would be a significant change.

All of this is taking place while Portland stumbled out of the gate to a 5-6 record, and Lillard is struggling with his shot. That adds tension to the situation.

It’s all worth monitoring in Portland.

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