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Giegerich: Blazers President Chris McGowan Says More Staff Reductions Possible

Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan discusses his acclimation to Portland, relationship with owner Paul Allen and staffing plans.

Blazers Courtside

Andy Giegerich of the Portland Business Journal has an interview with Portland Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan, in which he discusses his acclimation to the city, relationship with owner Paul Allen, plans for staffing and some back history.

PBJ: The one thing I always wonder about is the level of involvement (owner Paul Allen and his Vulcan Ventures group) has (with the Blazers). Was that a big transition for you because they clearly have a big say about what goes on in Portland? Unless I'm wrong...

McGowan: To some degree, it's wrong. Paul has the power and he hires a CEO to run the business. He's there with resources when you need it. I do have a good network of people in Seattle to communicate with for whatever I need, and you need to manage up in terms of things you should communicate to your ownership group. If things are or aren't going according to plan, you need to make them aware of that so there are no surprises. That's very similar to what I had to do in L.A. with the owner of the team being in Denver. It's actually very familiar to me. I had to operate the same way. We have regular communication with each other, which is helpful.

Recent layoffs

McGowan: Right. The organization was bloated compared to other teams I'd studied. To some degree, we still are. To me, I'm more focused on getting the structure right, but our business needs change every year. I tweak things a lot, and there could be more (reductions) to be determined in this area, maybe a couple more here and there ... I think for next nine to 12 months, there might be some of that, but the larger reductions are done. I'd said I wanted to have it done by Feb. 15, but I actually did it in early January. I didn't want it hanging over peoples' heads. At the same time, I didn't want to do it too quickly because I'm still assessing everything.


PBJ: What was your first job (as a kid)?

McGowan: I was a grocery store bagger at a commissary on a military base. When you turn 16, this was, as a kid growing up with a military dad - although my dad wasn't a typical military dad, he was a lot lower-key than a lot of my friends' military dads - when you turn 16, you'd go down to the commissary grocery stores, and all the kids would line up, they'd put red and black checkers in a bag. If you got a red one, you worked, and you'd get tips for bagging and taking groceries out to cars. If you got a black one, you didn't work that day. So it was great: If you got a red chip, you could get $40 or $50 a day in tips.

McGowan executed his second round of layoffs in January after joining the organization last October.

McGowan's statement in January indicated that no other layoffs were imminent but did leave open the possibility of further cuts.

"We concluded our second and final round of staffing restructuring which unfortunately included the elimination of seven positions across our organization," McGowan said in the statement. "These decisions were made because I have determined that we are operating with more staff members than most NBA franchises. Additionally, it has been my goal to restructure the organization by removing layers and creating a more efficient operation.

"This restructuring has accomplished these goals and we are now getting more in line with where we need to be in regards to headcount. We believe that this round of restructuring completes our major realignments, but we remain committed to doing those things necessary for the successful operation of the Trail Blazers."

Back in December, McGowan announced the first round of layoffs. That first round of layoffs followed the resignation of former COO Sarah Mensah in November, the resignation of top lawyer, Mike Fennell in October, the resignation of former president Larry Miller in July 2012, and the resignation of Senior VP J.E. Isaac in June 2011.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter