Transcript: Bill Simmons And Chad Ford Discuss Kevin Pritchard, Paul Allen & The Elliot Williams Controversy

During a two part draft podcast posted on June 25th, Bill Simmons and Chad Ford discuss all things Kevin Pritchard.

It's no secret that Ford has been a big time Pritchard fan for a number of years.  That history makes some of his comments here even more interesting.

In Part One, Ford and Simmons start with a discussion surrounding Ford's frustration over Elliot Williams, the guard from Memphis who Portland selected with the #22 pick in the first round.  Ford is peeved because he got smokescreened by Pritchard when he thought the two had an open and honest dialogue.  

It's natural to be upset as a reporter when someone lies to you.  In this case, that frustration is made more interesting because it involves questions about Williams's health.  Ford essentially asserts that Pritchard or his staff members misrepresented their knowledge of Williams's health and potentially overstated the seriousness of his knee injury.  You might be having flashbacks to the controversy over Darius Miles, when league executives anonymously accused Pritchard of bad-mouthing the damage done to Miles's surgically-repaired knee in an effort to keep his salary off of Portland's books.  Of course, Miles was an outgoing Blazer.  Williams is an incoming Blazer. Awkward stuff.

Then, in Part Two of the podcast, Ford and Simmons give their thoughts on Paul Allen, Kevin Pritchard's firing, the timing of the firing, how they would have reacted in Pritchard's situation, what Pritchard's legacy will be and how other executives around the league view the desirability of Portland's GM position. It's an extended discussion and it's always interesting to hear the national perspective on this big-time local issue.

Click through for a full transcript of both discussions.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

Part One: Elliot Williams

Bill Simmons:

We have so many people now covering the NBA and tapped into different sources. We've got our ESPN guys, you've got the Yahoo! guys, you've got the newspaper guys, you've got Ken Berger at CBS. It seems like there's a lot of information out there and it's very easy [for NBA teams] to pick one writer and push some sort of agenda. You mentioned on twitter last night that you thought Portland did that with Elliot Williams from Memphis. Explain.

Chad Ford:

"There was a lot of whispering, hushed tones. "We hear this kid may be injured more than possible. We don't know. We don't have any information. What do you know? Oh my goodness, maybe it's a catastrophic injury." All of these different things. Then, once I collect enough... that spreads like wildfire throughout the league, right? People write about it. All the GMs are like, "what do you know? What have you heard? His agent won't return our calls. We don't know what is going on."

When I finally got a hold of the agent and he's explaining to me what's going on. Listen, I had to twist some arms to get the agent to talk, right? Sometimes as a journalist what you have to say is, "Look, I have enough people that are talking about this that I'm ready to write this. I'm giving you the opportunity to clear up the record if you want to. Finally, in this case, he was represented by Arn Tellem's agency -- Thad Foucette talked to me on the record about it. In the conversation, one of the things he said was, "He's worked out for Portland."

Alright. OK. Uh, so if you're hearing from a team, "We have no idea what's going on, we're completely lost, we can't get a hold of the agent." Then I find out the guy has actually worked out there.

Listen, there is a lot of lying. I think we know this. There is a lot of lying that goes on the week before the draft."

Bill Simmons:

"Shouldn't you do that, though? If I was a GM I would lie to everybody. Why wouldn't you put out as much false information as you could? Like you look at what New Jersey did at number three. They tried to make it seem like they were going to take Wes Johnson at number three for a couple of days, David Kahn had like a conniption, he was ready to have a heart attack over it. It's a competitive advantage to do that. I think that's actually smart."

Chad Ford:

"It is, except it's a fine line, right?  Because doing what I do, where I talk to a lot of guys in the league and a lot of it is off the record, that's how you get good information. There has to be a certain level of trust. For both of us, if they are going to lie, it's a problem, right?  Because I can't trust them. I had several individuals, I'm not going to name them on the podcast, who just flat out said, "You've got to trust me. I've never lied to you before. Chad, I'm not trying to steer you astray." And then flat out bald faced told me a lie.

"You know, frankly, when they call and they need something or how do you trust them any more. How do you know you're not going to be abused. So that's the other side of it. It's hard for me to say -- I understand because if I was in their shoes i might do it."

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Part Two: Paul Allen / Kevin Pritchard

Bill Simmons:

"Say something to the fans of Portland that talks them off the ledge."

Chad Ford:

"Jump. My advice to you is jump. Because I think Paul Allen -- we talked a little bit about this in the debate -- has now entered the Donald Sterling zone."

Bill Simmons:

"He's Al Davis. He's crazy Al Davis. It's unbelievable."

Chad Ford:

"If you're an owner and you're thinking, "Who should I hire for my next GM?" take note of this. He was amazing as a General Manager. The team throws him under the bus for months. Leaves him dangling, leaks to the press all sorts of ridiculous and derogatory stuff about him. He keeps doing his job. Doesn't say anything. He now knows, he finally figures out that he has no chance keeping his job. He's working 20 hours a night still preparing for the draft, knowing they are going to fire him as soon as the draft is over. That's what is going to happen.

"It's an hour before the draft. As you're getting ready to walk in the war room, Paul Allen says, "Hey Kevin, can I talk to you for a second?" Fires him an hour before the draft but says, "Hey, we still want you to run the draft room tonight."

"Pritchard doesn't do what I would have done, which is when I got there, I would have picked up the phone and started calling around, "Listen, I'll give you Brandon Roy for your 56th pick in the draft. With the 22nd pick in the draft, we're going to take Omar Sanham. Which you would loved."

Bill Simmons:

"I would have enjoyed that.  Get the bleep button ready. I would have told Paul Allen, "Hey, Paul go [****} yourself. How about that? Go [****] yourself. And I would have walked out and that would have been the end of my GM reign. So I applaud Kevin Pritchard."

Chad Ford:

"Classy guy. There's no way that they are going to find a guy who is as innovative as creative as he is. RC Buford, Sam Presti, these guys are smart guys, they're not stupid. After they saw what happened to Kevin Pritchard, they're really going to give up the great gigs they have in San Antonio and Oklahoma City and go to that mess?"

Bill Simmons:

"I loved that rumor. Like Presti is going to go work for Paul Allen who hung Pritchard out to dry for four months. That sounds awesome."

Chad Ford:

"Whoever is going to take that job is taking that job because they don't have anything else better that I can do. Meanwhile, whether it's this summer -- and we know the Suns job is open, the Clippers job, the Warriors job and maybe a couple more when they find out that Kevin Pritchard is available -- if it's not this summer, it's next summer and he's the leading candidate, ahead of Danny Ferry, ahead of all of these guys. And he gets the job he wants. With Donnie Walsh's contract coming up in New York that could be the Knicks, it could be all sorts of different opportunities. He's going to come out fine. If I'm a Blazer fan, it's over."

Bill Simmons:

"Yeah, if I were Kevin Pritchard, I'd do TV for a year. Handsome guy, articulate, he'd be good, an asset to any  television show on whatever network. Bang it out for a year, get a paycheck and your price is going to be through the roof next year. I think people are going to realize that was really stupid, they just got rid of one of the top 7 GMs. And not to blow smoke up Pritchard's [****] for 10 minutes because he did, he whiffed on Oden/Durant. It has to be mentioned.

"I actually think if Paul Allen was going to legitimately fire this guy and come up with an excuse, where fans could be like, "Alright, I don't agree with him, but at least I get it," he should have played the Oden/Durant card. Like, "Look this guy messed up the biggest draft decision this franchise has had in 25 years." I don't think that would have been fair but at least that's a legitimate reason. I don't even know the reason."

Chad Ford:

"I don't think anybody does. I think we're all waiting for the other shoe to drop. The kind of shady revelation."

Bill Simmons:

"I think the info that's out is pretty accurate. I think they thought this guy was getting too much attention and publicity and I think it rubbed Allen and the people that run that Vulcan, whatever the [****], I think they were like, "Who's this guy? Why does everybody think he's a rockstar? This was a team effort. This guy takes too much credit." I actually don't think he was a take too much credit guy."

Chad Ford:

"It was our [the media] fault. It was our fault for that. He never came up with the term "Pritch-slap," that was a media thing. He didn't ask for... I was close to Kevin over the last few years. I never once heard him try to taunt his record, taunt another team. He never pushed that. He was always actually very complimentary. I knew who his scouts were. There are a lot of GMs who have never, ever mentioned to me a name of anybody else who works in their organization. He constantly mentioned these guys. Talked about them. Talked about Nate McMillan."

Bill Simmons:

"At the Sloan Conference he brought his entire staff with him. He was proudly ... I've only met Kevin twice, I thought he was a really nice guy, I wouldn't say I'm friends with him or even acquaintances with him, but I was impressed that he was so proud to introduce his staff to everybody. I just thought he seemed like a genuine dude."

Chad Ford:

"He's a genuine dude. I do think he does occasionally come across as arrogant. He's competitive."

Bill Simmons:

"He should be arrogant. He did a great job. I would be arrogant."

Chad Ford:

"This is the thing. If you're upset that he's getting undue attention that's one thing, but the reason the guy got so much attention was because he was doing a great job and I think this is the thing. You wrote one of my favorite columns, the one after there was no trades at the trade deadline, called the "No Balls Association." Kevin Pritchard had balls. He was not afraid and that's why fans, not only just Blazers fans, but NBA fans, appreciated him as a GM because he was not afraid, he didn't calculate at every step along the way, "What is the move that will keep my job for an extra six months?" It was always about doing what he thought was best and the most aggressive move. I wish there was more GMs in the league like him."

Bill Simmons:

"You have to give him credit to be the first guy out of all these guys to use cap space, not to just blow it on the free agent du jour, but as a strategy, as a long-term strategy of, "I'm going to take a bad contract, pick up a pick, I'm going to buy a pick here and put a guy in Europe who's not going to be ready for three years." I mean, maybe it was a group effort but that guy was in charge... I think Oden/Durant is really the only blemish on his resume. Even the Camby trade last year was a freaking heist."

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-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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