After a decade in charge, Neil Olshey has been fired as the Portland Trail Blazers GM.
Officially, Olshey was fired for “violations of the Trail Blazers’ Code of Conduct,” creating a toxic work environment. However, he also left behind him a mess on the court (good luck finding anyone who doesn’t think that was part of the decision). While Olshey said the roster was not the problem in Portland last season, this season showed it clearly was a big part of the problem — and it fits terribly with the more aggressive defensive style new coach Chauncey Billups wants to play.
Whoever is the new GM has a lot of work to do — work that includes keeping Damian Lillard happy and in Portland long term (it’s possible things will move beyond the point of no return no matter what the next GM does, but it has to be priority No. 1).
There is a lot of roster cleaning up to do, and Joe Cronin has been promoted to interim general manager. Who could get that job in the long run? Here are five names to watch.
1) Scott Perry
Perry is currently the general manager of the New York Knicks, but he is working for team president Leon Rose, who has the hammer on decisions. Perry is currently the No. 2 guy and a move to Portland would move him to the big seat. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said Perry will get strong consideration.
Perry has a 20-year resume in the league including stops in Orlando, Sacramento, Seattle, and Detroit. He has the reputation of having formed strong relationships around the league, and he has a deep list of contacts.
Eversley is the general manager of the Chicago Bulls, but like with Perry in New York, he is really the No. 2 in that front office, in this case working for Arturas Karnisovas. Eversley also is very well respected around the league and has worked in Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports also put Eversley’s name forward.
3) Brent Barry
A 14-year NBA player turned NBA television analyst turned front office person, Barry is currently the VP of basketball operations for the San Antonio Spurs. He has less front office experience than Perry or Eversley (four years) but has a long history in the game and connections throughout it. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report put this forward.
4) Danny Ainge
From the moment that it was clear Olshey was in trouble, Ainge’s name has come up — but usually from people outside Portland. Ainge is an Oregon native, having grown up in Eugene (less than a couple of hours outside Portland). The long-time Celtics executive stepped away from that role before the start of this season, and it is unclear if he wants to step back in as a full-time head of a team again or if he would like more of a consultant role (ala Jerry West).
5) Tayshaun Prince will not get the job
Prince, a former teammate of Portland coach Billups, currently works in the Grizzlies front office and was linked to the job by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, Jason Quick — the long-time Trail Blazers insider, now with The Athletic — shot that down.
A popular name floated to replace Neil Olshey in Portland has been Tayshaun Prince, who is a VP in the Memphis Grizzlies front office and a former teammate of Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. However, a source says Prince is not a candidate at this time.
— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 3, 2021
The smart early money is on Perry or Eversley, but it will not be easy to pry them out of those big-market jobs.