Portland Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey has lost his job after allegations of bullying, hostility, and creating a toxic workplace environment. “Intimidation and profanity-laced tirades” were cited among his methods of franchise management. Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports tweeted the news of his departure.
“The Portland Trail Blazers have fired Neil Olshey, ending his 10-year run as the GM and president of basketball operations, league sources tell @YahooSports.”
Upon the news of his firing, the organization released this statement:
Statement from the Portland Trail Blazers pic.twitter.com/W9j4V3nNl2— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 3, 2021
Director of Player Personnel Joe Cronin has been named the interim general manager.
Olshey had served as Portland’s lead basketball executive since 2012, when the Blazers hired him from the Los Angeles Clippers after he served a similar role there.
Olshey’s claim to fame in Los Angeles was engineering a trade for then-New Orleans Pelicans point guard Chris Paul, who wanted to leave New Orleans for LA. After the NBA nixed a proposed exchange with the Los Angeles Lakers, Olshey was there to broker a deal for Paul as the only LA team left in play.
Olshey’s main achievement in Portland was drafting point guard Damian Lillard just weeks after Olshey arrived to the franchise in 2012. Lillard was selected with the 6th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Olshey followed up that selection by drafting guard CJ McCollum 10th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, giving the Blazers the starting backcourt duo which would define them through the entirety of Olshey’s tenure.
Subsequent decisions were not as fortuitous. The Blazers lost star forward LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency in 2015, spend considerable cap space on players who didn’t end up making an extended difference in 2016, and parlayed three first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft into forwards Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, neither of whom remained with the team past 2021. Portland continuously flirted with or exceeded the NBA’s luxury tax threshold in Olshey’s later years, but could not produce playoffs wins or even high bracket seedings.
We will update this story as further news comes available.