Larry Miller was hired in 2007 to replace Tod Leiweke. He has apparently made some comments about a few different general managers around the league including Mitch Kupchak of the Lakers, but also has said that he hasn't asked for permission from the teams these GMs work for to talk to them and do any formal interviews. I don't know if what Dwight Jaynes said this evening on Talkin' Ball is correct or not, but according to "The Godfather", not asking permission from the teams those managers work for is considered tampering by the NBA and Miller can be fined for making those comments. Regardless of whether or not there are going to be fines involved, Miller is not impressing me in his time as the Blazer's President.
In another thread, I asked what exactly his accomplishments have been up until now with the Blazers, and the only reply I received (Thank you AK) was that he's spearheaded the effort to attain LEED Gold standard for sustainability of the Rose Garden. Well pardon my political incorrectness, but I simply couldn't care less. Unless the NBA awards championships based on who's the most eco-friendly, Larry needs to concentrate on building a front office that can build a team that has the potential to contend for the NBA title and no other.
A quick rundown of what Larry Miller has accomplished in his time with the Blazers.
1. Signed the infamous deal with Comcast leaving thousands of fans in the dark and unable to see the team play but for a handful of times during the season. Since then he's given lip-service to the unpopularity of the move and to the monopolistic tendencies of Comcast in their unwillingness to negotiate with other carriers. At one point he alluded that the team was going to fix the situation, but I haven't heard anything from the team on this matter for quite a long time now, which doesn't instill in me much confidence in their expressed desire to put the fans first.
2. Botched the project to re-purpose the Rose Quarter, losing the opportunity to build a baseball park (thus having a direct hand in losing the Beavers) and create a year-round focal point for sports and entertainment in the area. The Memorial Coliseum isn't even the actual Memorial, but Miller didn't get in front of the controversy of tearing down the Coliseum and as far as I remember he did not do a good job of trying to communicate with the concerned citizens who objected to the plan. Instead, what I remember is that the presentation of the plan to reorganize the Rose Quarter was handled with the city directly and the team made very little effort to communicate with anyone else. Miller was interviewed on the radio about the process and from what I recall, his repeated reply to what the problems were was only to lay the blame at the feet of the City Council, which doesn't do anyone any good. I may be remembering that incorrectly, but I remember thinking that it was handled poorly, and wondered why they didn't use their media contacts to really flesh out the plans and address any concerns by the Veterans Association for instance.
3. Miller oversaw and may have had a hand in the firing of Tom Penn and Kevin Pritchard. On this I quite distinctly remember the accusation made against Penn and Pritchard that their agent was angling for Penn to be promoted into the GM position and for Pritchard to take over as President. There has been a lot of revisionist history as to who made what pick during the 2006 draft that net both Roy and LaMarcus and because of the health issues since that time wtih Roy and Oden. There has been a lot of second-guessing as well, however at the time these two drafts were looked upon as setting up Portland for a championship run in a few years. Pritchard, for all his bombast was able to pull off several lop-sided deals which made him a very popular GM with the fans, yet his savvy in the draft didn't save his job. Is it speculation to say that Miller should shoulder some of the blame for that decision? It may be possible that Pritchard and Penn had no confidence in Miller's performance, it may also be that they were simply too ambitious for their own good. I don't know if either is correct and both may be totally irrelevant, but it happened during Miller's tenure, so I'm listing it here.
4. The search for Pritchard's replacement, the hiring of Rich Cho and the subsequent firing a mere 10 months later. None of it made sense to me at the time and it still doesn't.
5. Yeah, I guess I have to list LEED Gold, whatever that means. No, that isn't an inquiry; I literally don't care.
6. The firing of Nate McMillan. In a year that saw the loss of Brandon Roy, the scramble to fill the void created by his absence, another setback and the eventual loss of Greg Oden, a severely truncated pre-season, a season with no time for adjustments and a back-court duo that really never hit their stride, Paul Allen and Larry Miller pulled the trigger on a coach that had lost vision and subsequently lost the respect of some players on the team. I'm one of the ones who was critical of McMillan because of his habit of driving the confidence completely out of his young players by not trusting them to learn on the court. I was also critical of the results of that insecurity because it inevitably lead to the overuse of the veterans to the point that they were complaining about his rotations. In a regular season, I don't think this would have been as big of a problem as it turned out to be this season, simply because of the extra time between games that would have allowed for better recovery. Do I agree with McMillan moving on? Yes, but not for the reasons it happened. If they were going to fire him, I think they should have waited until the end of the year.
All that leads up to today and the question that has been building in my mind in the last few weeks: What if Larry Miller is the common thread in all the chaos of the front office and their apparent sudden inability to do anything in a manner that suggests cohesion? There have been people calling for Paul Allen to sell the team, but then when in the past has Paul Allen ever shown that he's not interested in making the team better? When Pritchard was here, Allen enabled him to wheel and deal his way into a draft that stunned the league. But since Miller's addition onto the staff, there has been no set direction or even the appearance of agreement and unity, which has not been Allen's way of dealing with things in the past.
I don't know, perhaps I'm grasping at straws with this, but Miller doesn't impress me and I'd like to see him replaced before anyone else is hired. Right now, if Miller were to be fired, it would border on the ridiculous in the mind of the general public and Allen would looked at as even more unstable than he already is rumored to be, but if the next GM and Coach are to have a chance to do their job successfully, they need leadership that knows how to perform in his own job too.
What do yo all think? Am I off my rocker or what?