Transcript: Blazers President Larry Miller Discusses Firing Of GM Rich Cho

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The Portland Trail Blazers announced on Monday that the organization has decided to part ways with GM Rich Cho after less than one year.

Breaking news and press release post here.

Earlier, I posted an explanation from my one-on-one conversation with Blazers president Larry Miller.

Also, Cho issued a statement through a team.

Miller met with the press on Monday to answer questions at the Rose Garden on Monday afternoon.

Click through for a full transcript of Miller's statements to the media on Monday.

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

Here's a transcript of Larry Miller's comments. Questions are paraphrased and in bold. Answers are in blockquote and are word-for-word.

Initial Thoughts

The team has decided to part ways with Rich Cho. I just want to start out by thanking Rich for all of the efforts he gave us in terms of the things that he helped this team do while he was here. We decided that there was an issue as far as the chemistry and fit was a concern. We were assessing this for some time. The decision was made to move past it sooner than later, in terms of separating with Rich.

Also, as we’ve mentioned Chad Buchanan is going to move into the acting GM role and I’m 100% confident that Chad and the team out there in basketball operations will be able to get us through not only the draft but any other things that we need to get done from a basketball operations perspective. We will be launching a search at some point to fill the GM role but we’re not going to be in any rush to do it.

We are going to step back, totally assess the situation and look at what the criteria is to bring in the right person into this role before we do it. So we’re not going to have a timeline, we’re not going to be rushed. We’re going to basically take our time and bring the right person into this role sometime into the future.

Rich apparently was the right guy 10 months ago. What changed?

I think it’s just like there have been a lot of other companies that I have been involved in, where you hire someone, you go through the process, you think it’s the right fit and then after the person gets into the job, you realize it isn’t the right fit. The chemistry is just not right. In those kind of situations, what I’ve found and I think we agree on, it’s better to move sooner than later. Rather than drag it out and go through a time period and hope something will work out. In reality, once you realize that it’s not going to work, it’s best to move on. We did our end of the year assessment, evaluation, as a part of that process we determined that it wasn’t the right time.

 Why make this move?

One of the things that was probably one of the most important things about the GM role is that there has to be a connection and a chemistry with the owner. Not just with the owner but mainly with the owner and the rest of the management. The reality is in this particular situation there just wasn’t that chemistry.

 What makes the right person to fill this GM position?

I think for the right person this is a great job. We have an owner who is willing to spend money to bring players here. We have an owner who is committed to winning. We have an owner who loves the game of basketball. I absolutely believe that, for the right person, this is a great opportunity. This is a great job. It’s our responsibility now to go out and find that right person. To take the time and go through the process. To put out the effort to make sure we’re bringing in the right person. I absolutely still think this is a great job for the right person.

 How would you describe the right person?

That’s a big part of what we’re going to be assessing over the next time period. We’re still, right now, looking at what it is that we need to make this the right person. What it is that we need to find in that right person. So we’re going through that assessment process. Right now I can’t say it’s this, it’s this, it’s this. What we are going to do is step back, look at the entire situation over the last year and make sure we try to do something that’s not going to result in a similar situation going forward.

 Was there an event that triggered this?

It’s nothing specific that happened over the last few days. I know there’s been some comments in the media with a situation with Brandon Roy, a situation with suspending Brandon. That really didn’t weigh on this decision. To address that situation, actually we all got together, talked about how we should address the situation with Brandon, after his comments to the media, and we decided that the right thing was for Rich to sit down, have a discussion with Brandon so if this happened again we would suspend him. That’s the reality of what happened with the Brandon situation. That didn’t weigh on this decision at all.

 Was it a matter of his relationship with Paul or others as well?

I think the main chemistry issue was with Paul. The reality is the relationship and the connection and the chemistry and the owner and the general manager than the chemistry between my role and the owner. That is a role where those two have to be connected. There has to be chemistry there. At the end of the day, there just wasn’t.

Message to fans after firing two GMs

Well, I would hope that the fans would look at the results that we’ve had over the last couple of years. We made some, I think, good decisions at times, players that we’ve brought in here. Wesley Matthews going out into the free agency and bringing Wesley Matthews in. The trade for Gerald Wallace. We’re going to continue to try to make this team better. The reality is that this decision is really based on Paul Allen wanting to make the team better. All of us feeling like we had to the right people and the right team in place. That’s really what’s driving this. We want to get better. We want to deliver a winner to this community, this city. We feel like there’s got to be the right chemistry, the right team to make that happen.

Does this situation with you and Paul in position make it difficult to be a GM here?

I don’t think there’s any hindrance for a general manager in doing that. In any decisions that get made, there is a collaboration that occurs. The general manager weighs in, the owner weighs in, I weigh in. There’s a collaboration on decisions to make a trade, or make a draft pick, or anything related to the team. So the general manager, I don’t think it’s different than any team, before you can make a final decision, the owner has to sign off on it. It’s no different. The reality is – I think we’re even more collaborative than most teams.

Is this going to hurt your chances in attracting players via trade or free agency?

I think this is a great situation for someone that would move into this general manager’s role. I think if you talk to players that have been here. For instance, Juwan Howard. I still talk to Juwan all the time and Juwan’s comment to me is the best year he’s had in his career, he had here in Portland. James Jones, he’s on the labor relations committee for the player’s association and I’m on labor relations committee, I see James all the time. James continually tells me the best year of his career was the year he spent in Portland. I don’t think is going to affect our ability to sign free agents or make trades. Portland still has the reputation of being a great organization, a great city, with great fans, where players love to come and play and I don’t think that’s going to change at all. For the right person, this is a great situation.

Difference of opinion on issues with Rich?

I think this was more communication than philosophy. Make sure I get the right word there. I think it’s more communication than philosophy. To me, the communication, the connection, the chemistry between owner and GM is critical.

How will you go forward in looking for a replacement?

Again, that’s why we’re going to step back, take our time, look totally at the situation before we make a decision on moving forward and bringing someone else in. I’ve got 100% confidence as does Paul in the team that we have there, that’s being led by Chad Buchanan in terms of keeping things going in the right direction. Until we find that right person to bring in here. We’re going to continue to look and continue to assess and determine what qualities and characteristics that we’re looking for. We’re going to go through that well before we start looking for someone.

Who is in charge of search process?

I’ll be leading that process. It will be myself and Paul.

Will Chad Buchanan be considered as a replacement candidate?

Well once we determine what the criteria is and what the qualifications are that we are looking for. If any of those guys meet the criteria or those qualifications then they will be considered for sure.

What will happen to Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry?

They are going to stay on. We want those guys to continue to be part of our team and they will continue to work with Chad and Mike on our basketball operations.

Draft strategy and planning?

Chad will be leading it. I will be there to assist those guys, give them any kind of help that I can in terms of the decisions that get made. Paul will be a part of those decisions as well. That collaborative effort will be there, we will make the decisions that we think are right.

Will owner Paul Allen speak to this?

He’s out of the country right now. There is a possibility that he can communicate but right now he’s out of the country and not able to attend this meeting.

What will you consider in looking for a replacement?

We will consider, I think this was a learning experience for us. This last year was a real learning experience for us. In terms of who it is and what type of person, what criteria there are for this role. We’re going to take all of those learnings, based on that, we’re going to develop a criteria for who we are going to bring into this role next. We’re going to take our time, we’re not going to rush, we’re not going to set a timeline out right now. We’re going to take our time to do what we can to find the right person.

 

Rich Cho's reaction

I was the person who communicated this with Rich today. Rich was shocked. As you would expect but to his credit and to the kind of individual that he is, the first thing that he said in his deliberate style of communicating was, well, ‘The first thing I want to say is to thank both you and Paul Allen to give me this opportunity.’ It just speaks to the quality of the person that Rich is.

You're now paying two GMs that don't work for you

It definitely affects the bottom line but it’s not something that is going to stop us in any way from moving forward.

Will you begin the search process immediately?

We’re not going to start immediately. Immediately what we are going to do is step back and assess the situation and really look at it. Once we go through that process, we’ll go through the search.

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

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