Chris McGowan has worn multiple hats for the Portland Trail Blazers over the last decade, first running the business side of the franchise as CEO then stepping into a similar role with the club’s parent organization, Vulcan Sports and Entertainment. Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune sat down with McGowan for an exhaustive interview about the state of the franchise, how decisions are made, and the general outlook going forward.
McGowan told Eggers the division of labor remains largely steady between himself, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, and Vulcan vice-chairman Bert Kolde following the death of former owner Paul Allen.
Bert’s role is the same, too. Ever since I’ve been here, he has been an involved and trusted confidante for Paul and has been involved in various teams and Vulcan initiatives. That’s going to continue. He helps me and (president/basketball operations) Neil Olshey when needed. My focus is the arena business; Neil is the basketball side of things.
When queried about a possible sale of the franchise, McGowan responded:
It is very clearly business as usual, and we’re operating that way. Who knows what will happen in the future? But I get up every morning assuming that (the sale of the club) is not going to happen and we’ll carry forward.
McGowan also commented about the decision-making hierarchy:
It’s all being worked out, but it will be similar to what it was like when Paul was here. She stepped into Paul’s shoes. Neil and I will report to Jody, and Bert will be helping us out and advising us...
Tribune: Is Jody involved in decision-making with the club?
McGowan: It’s all so new, but in my opinion, she has taken a pretty active role in terms of being a resource to us in pretty major decisions. To date, that’s how it’s worked.
McGowan indicated to Eggers that the team was running in the black and has for several years. The asterisk on that assertion is that luxury tax payments aren’t assessed until the end of each season.
The entire interview contains a full score of questions and is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of the team.