The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey on Sunday, just short of a month after the team launched a probe into allegations that he fostered a toxic, hostile working environment. Olshey’s reign as general manager in Rip City comes to an end after nine seasons, the last eight of which the Blazers have made the playoffs—the longest active streak in basketball.
Olshey’s alleged workplace misconduct is certainly proper justification for his dismissal. An ever-growing and extra vocal contingent of fans and team followers, though, have long believed the Blazers would be best served by making a change at the top of the front office. That sentiment was further cemented over the summer, when Olshey led a controversial search process for Terry Stotts’ replacement that included a sham investigation into a 1997 rape accusation against Chauncey Billups.
Ugly, disheartening and utterly reprehensible as Olshey’s actions outside basketball often were, though, Portland’s string of postseason appearances also artificially inflated the perception of his ability to construct a cohesive, championship-worthy roster. His behavior is what ultimately got Olshey fired, but his arrogant, hard-headed decision-making as a team-builder would’ve also been reason enough.
Here are three moves the Blazers must make after finally parting ways with their embattled general manager.
3. Hire a modern, forward-thinking replacement
Portland promoted Joe Cronin to interim GM upon dismissing Olshey. He joined the organization all the way back in 2006 as basketball operations intern, working his way up the flow chart to being named assistant general manager the 2021-22 season.
There’s no indication that Cronin won’t be considered as Olshey’s full-time replacement. But it’s telling that big names like former Boston Celtics honcho Danny Ainge, a Eugene native who graduated from the University of Oregon, and Memphis Grizzlies executive Tayshaun Prince, a former teammate of Billups with the Detroit Pistons, have already been reported as potential successors to lead Portland’s front office. The New York Knicks’ Scott Perry, Chicago Bulls’ Marc Eversley and San Antonio Spurs’ Brent Barry—who interviewed for the Blazers’ coaching vacancy over the offseason—have also been reported as possible hires.