The Trail Blazers fired basketball executive chairman and general manager Neil Olshey after concluding an investigation into alleged workplace misconduct.
Last month, Portland announced that it had hired the law firm O’Melveny & Myers to conduct a “full, fair and independent review” about concerns surrounding Olshey’s conduct. Many employees alleged that the 56-year-old had created a “hostile work environment”, According to a report from Yahoo Sports ‘Chris Haynes.
How did the organization deal with Olshey’s dismissal? And who could be his long-term replacement?
Why did the Trail Blazers fire Neil Olshey?
On Friday afternoon, Portland issued the following statement:
Portland Trail Blazers is committed to building an organization that has a positive impact on our colleagues, the community, and the world in which we live and play. Following the conclusion of an independent review of the concerns and complaints surrounding our work environment at the practice facility, the Portland Trail Blazers organization has decided to terminate the general manager and president of football operations. Neil Olshey’s basket, effective immediately for violation of the Portland Trail Blazers’ code of conduct. Out of respect for those who were directly involved in that privileged investigation, we will not disclose or discuss it. We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment. Joe Cronin has been promoted to interim general manager while the organization’s leadership conducts a long-term search for a replacement.
According to Haynes, Trail Blazers employees were allegedly “intimidated and laced with profanity, along with other bullying tactics”. Many employees are said to have taken issue with Olshey’s treatment of employees.
According to Haynes, several employees also “raised concerns about the organization’s alleged “mishandling” of the death of video coordinator Zach Cooper. The 32-year-old died unexpectedly in April 2020. The cause of death was not disclosed, but The Athletic’s Jason Quick noted that it was unrelated to COVID-19.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for the entire Trail Blazers family” Olshey said in a statement last year. “Zach is a positive spirit, a tireless worker and an excellent teacher. My prayers go out to his family and all who loved him.”
Olshey has served as the team’s general manager since 2012 and executive president of basketball since 2015. Prior to joining the Trail Blazers, Olshey was the Clippers’ executive vice president of basketball.
Who will replace Neil Olshey as Trail Blazers GM?
Joe Cronin will serve as the interim GM, but early reports have revealed several long-term replacement candidates:
Will the Trail Blazers change their stance on the Damian Lillard trade?
Olshey made a few small changes to the roster during the season, but he never considered moving Lillard. He repeatedly turned down attempts to buy the franchise’s best player, even after Lillard expressed frustration with the state of his team.
Maybe the next GM will come with a different plan, but it would be surprising if Portland chose to immediately trigger the Lillard trade. Despite some early struggles, the Trail Blazers are still in the Western Conference playoff race, and Lillard looks nothing like his usual while playing with the belly wound.
Most likely scenario: The Trail Blazers don’t make any major decisions until the permanent GM is made.