After listening to the audio from the Blazer's press conference today, like many of my fellow Blazer fans, I have a pit in my stomach. I feel like I have lost a brother today. It is hard to hold out hope that Kevin Pritchard will remain the GM of our team for much longer, when there seemingly is nobody in high places (Blazer Management) who is willing to stand behind KP and endorse him. The press conference should have taught us a few things, and should also cause us to keep our eyes out for a few things in the future. Here are a few observations, and I'd appreciate any and all comments from the readers here in regards to them. More after the jump...
1) If Larry Miller is to believed, this issue origninally did not have anything to do with KP, but rather Tom Penn. Larry Miller stated that he was surprised that things had come to this point (in that KP was now finding himself in the middle of this.drama.)
2) Miller said that KP was in on the conversations regarding Penn as the process went down to fire Penn. At the same time, KP never seemed to state anything along the lines that he was in support of the Penn firing. For that matter, he didn't even seem to strike me as feeling Penn did anything worthy of being canned. Also, KP seemed to communicate a tremendous amount of loyalty and respect towards Tom Penn.
3) The ups and downs of this franchise throughout the last 12 years have Paul Allen as a common denominatior. Consider bad arena deals, broken financial models, jail blazers, etc.
4)) KP"s agent, who happens to be Tom Penn's agent as well, has been extremely vocal in calling out the firing of Tom Penn as a warning shot to KP. The agent is either right on the money about this, or is in the process of really hurting KP with all of this banter.
There are many other points that could be made here I suppose, but what Kevin Pritchard does here will really go a long ways in helping us get down to the bottom of what is really going on. Pritchard really tried to distance himself from his agent's comments today. So what will KP do?
I get the sense that Miller does not want to see KP go, but then again he would not endorse KP. So, it is fairly clear that Miller is nothing more than a talking head company guy. I think most of us knew that, but if there was any doubt, it should be removed after today. That press conference has only caused more problems and have created more distractions, than it helped alleviate today.
Although it is conjecture and speculation on my part, here is what I think is really going on. I think Allen and the Vulcans probably took issue with Tom Penn for some reason unbeknownst to the public. Allen being the Billionaire, probably got pissed off and wanted Penn out. KP, out of loyalty (and frustration because Penn was his guy, and now the Vulcans/Paul Allen were making GM types of decisions without consulting or deferring to the GM), probably went to bat for Penn, and in the process alienated some higher-ups. Ego got in the way, and now KP is on the hot seat. KP seems very blindsided by all of this. The way he came across today reminded me of the scene out of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" right after Jack Nicholson had been given a labotomy and the Chief relized that Jack was basically "gone."
So what will KP do? I would keep my eyes on what he does regarding his agent. KP is no stupid man. He might be a bit naive due to a lack of experience, but I have to believe the smoking gun will be tied to his agent. It was said by some of the reporters on 95.5 FM that had it not been for the agent stirring things up, there may not have been a press conference today. This press conference needed to occur for Pritchard's sake...this could only help KP in the eyes of the public. He came across as broken, contrite, sad, and almost despondant man. He proclaimed his love for his job, and said all of the right things. He clearly has put the ball in Paul Allen's court. If Paul Allen fires Pritchard, it would be a total PR nightmare. (I'd think the nightmare has already begun.) On the otherhand, if there truly is a disconnect between KP and his agent, it would really confuse me as to why KP would keep him around. At the very least, he should make the agent retract some of his inflamatory statements. If KP keeps his agent, I have to believe that KP felt lines were crossed by those above him regarding personel decisions, KP is standing his ground, and it will unfortunately result in KP being gone after the season.
Like Jason Quick said, It might be that Nate McMillan could be the only one to save KP's job, by letting ownership know that "If KP's gone, then I'm gone. That would at least explain why Coach Nate has only been willing to take one year extensions at a time. He knows that the situation here might not be as "Rosy" as it appeared when he first signed on.