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Friday, July 10, 2020

Articles tagged: Neil Olshey

Top 5 candidates Jeanie Buss, Lakers should try to hire as president

Masai Ujiri Raptors

Magic Johnson dropped the stunning news on Tuesday that he was stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. Though some are saying this leaves the Lakers in disarray and makes them look bad or unstable, the truth is Johnson was not dedicated to the job or doing well at it, and the Lakers are better off without him in that role. Credit to him for recognizing that and stepping away so the Lakers could move forward.

The Lakers are now in a pivotal position for their franchise. They’ve gone six straight seasons without reaching the playoffs, and they have an aging LeBron James on their roster. If they want to win while they have him, they need to get things on track quickly. That starts at the top, where hiring a replacement for Johnson is key in determining the franchise’s future.

Here’s a look at the top five executives the team should be targeting, regardless of how big of long shots some may seem.

1) Masai Ujiri

If you’re the best franchise in the NBA, your list of targets should start with the best executive in the league. And that’s Masai Ujiri. Ujiri was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2013 for his work building the Denver Nuggets. The team won 50 games twice in his three seasons and reached the playoffs in all three years. They won 57 games in his final season, which marked a successful turnaround following the trade of Carmelo Anthony two years earlier. He left Denver to take a position with the Toronto Raptors after the 2012-2013 season. At the time he took the Raptors job, Toronto was coming off five straight losing seasons and did not have a star since Chris Bosh left for Miami. Since then they’ve become one of the powers in the Eastern Conference, winning 50-plus games four seasons in a row, only unable to get past LeBron James. Some of the gems he drafted in Denver included Kenneth Faried and Evan Fournier. In Toronto, he’s drafted Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Norman Powell, and added key players like Kawhi Leonard, DeMarre Carroll and Serge Ibaka.

If you’re the Lakers, you dangle the prestige and allure of Los Angeles in front of Ujiri, plenty of money, and make him turn you down.


Blazers GM not planning to blow up the team

Neil Olshey Blazers

Despite some external pressure to “blow it up,” the Portland Trail Blazers seem to have no intentions of doing so.

In an interview this week with Blazers courtside reporter Brooke Olzendam, general manager Neil Olshey discussed the team’s long-term plans.

“We’re keeping the core together, knowing Dame [Lillard] and CJ [McCollum] have at least 3 years left on their contracts,” he said. “And we give that group the best chance to win without impeding our ability long-term in terms of being into a number that’s completely non-liquid.”

The Blazers just re-signed center Jusuf Nurkic to a four-year, $48 million deal this summer. Meanwhile, Lillard and McCollum are each under contract through the 2020-21 season, as Olshey mentioned.

After winning 49 games last year but getting swept in the first round, Portland has faced calls for a roster shakeup. That makes a fair amount of sense for a team that has to hang with the likes of Golden State and Houston in the Western Conference despite being built around two undersized, score-first guards who are both below-average defenders.

Lillard, in particular, recently had to address concerns about his future with the Blazers. But regardless of all the noise, the team clearly feels that they have enough to stay competitive for several more years to come.

Blazers GM Neil Olshey says team won’t overreact to quick playoff exit

Neil Olshey Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, leading many to wonder if there were big changes in store for the organization.

While obviously still assessing the damage, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey seemed to indicate that there was no plan to blow things up and start anew.

Obviously, some distance is needed. It’s understandable why many fans and even players are frustrated, but snap decisions on Portland’s future aren’t helpful right now.

Hawks reportedly denied permission to talk with Neil Olshey

Neil Olshey Blazers

The Atlanta Hawks are swinging for the fences with their general manager search and don’t mind being turned down in the process.

According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hawks requested to speak with Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey about their vacancy but were denied permission.

Teams typically allow their employees to interview for jobs if the job in question serves as a promotion. In the case of a lateral move, such as this, it’s no surprise a team like Portland wouldn’t want to let Olshey go elsewhere.

In addition to pursuing Olshey, the Hawks reportedly have been linked to Brooklyn’s Trajan Langdon, Chauncey Billups, Joe Dumars, Brent Barry and even Cleveland’s David Griffin.

Journalist responds to Blazers GM putting him on blast

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey isn’t here for your slander, as one local journalist is finding out the hard way.

In his season-ending press conference earlier this week, Olshey reacted to a column by John Canzano of the Oregonian that criticized Portland’s “broken” culture after their first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.

“I was glad that it was written by someone who came to two games all year,” said Olshey, per Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “Clearly, the motivation was to abuse his privileges as a media person with his pass so that he could get tickets for his relatives and pictures taken with the opposing point guard in the opposing point guard’s jersey. Because clearly, that’s an unbiased opinion, right? That’s an impartial observer talking about our roster when he has his nephew in a Steph Curry jersey taking pictures with Steph Curry. Sure.

“You know, look. I’m very comfortable with where our culture is,” continued Olshey. “I mean, look, you guys are around it. Hey, you’re in that locker room more than I am, right? I mean, quite honestly, you guys know. The day I stopped coaching, I haven’t walked into an NBA locker room. Not once. It’s not my place. When I talk to the guys, it’s out of the locker room. That’s their sanctuary. So, you guys know how close a group that is, how they feel about the coaching staff, the support that they get from the organization. They know we have their best interest at heart.”

For his part, Canzano took an opportunity to respond to Olshey’s comments on Wednesday, admitting that he had, in fact, attended just two Blazers games all season but had watched many others, presumably on television. He also rebutted the nephew-in-a-Curry-jersey anecdote specifically:

I bought a pair of tickets to Game 3 for my nephew and our church pastor. I had to work the game, so I needed a chaperone to sit with the kid and the church youth pastor was all for it. I dropped them off in front of Moda Center and picked them back up after the game. The nephew, 11, likes Steph Curry and wore his Curry jersey to the game and the pastor snapped a photo of the kid with Curry warming up in the background. It was posted to social media. My nephew is in the foster-care system. My wife and I are his guardians. It felt like the right thing to do. Not sure why this is even a topic. Not sure fans care, either. But I suppose Olshey was trying to say that because my nephew wore a Curry jersey, I couldn’t be impartial? I don’t know, and it’s a waste of time to think about it.

Though it does happen, it’s rare to see a reporter get ethered like this in the NBA. But Olshey has been protective of his guys lately in the wake of their early playoff exit, so you have to admire the fervor of the Blazers GM.