It's been a whirlwind month for Portland's new general manager Rich Cho. His top priority was to hit the ground running after he accepted the position, and now he's finalized the staff that he hopes will help him take the Trail Blazers to the next level.
One of the first questions Cho faced, after he took the job, was whether or not he'd be hiring an assistant general manager, being he seems to possess the skills to assume both duties. He's answered that by hiring not one, but two, assistants.
Bill Branch, 44, and Steve Rosenberry, 55, have joined the team, and along with Mike Born and Chad Buchanan, will be, what amounts to, a five-headed monster in the front office. It's about scouting, and evaluating talent on the pro and college levels.
"I am thrilled to have both Bill and Steve in the fold," said Cho. "I've worked with both guys, and I'm confident they will bring intelligence, experience, hard work, and high character to their new roles. Joining forces with Chad and Mike, we now have a great team in place to do something special in Portland."
Branch worked alongside Cho in Oklahoma City for the past three seasons as the team's director of pro player personnel. His responsibilities will center on NBA talent along with Born, who is the team's Director of NBA Scouting.
"This all came together really fast," said Branch. "Once Rich presented the opportunity, it was really a no-brainer on my part. It's an advancement for me, professionally. This is a great organization, with a great owner, a terrific fan base, and this team has such a great history."
Along with Cho's urging, Branch used the advice of a former Trail Blazer to help ease his mind about the decision.
"One of my earlier bosses was Dave Twardzik, and he absolutely raved about this place," said Branch. "He's been a mentor to me. I reached out to him when Rich presented the opportunity, and he could say enough about the organization, the city, and the fans."
Rosenberry, who will focus mainly on the college ranks, with Buchanan, the Director of College Scouting, has been serving as a scout with the Atlanta Hawks. He previously worked with Cho in Seattle, and came running when he got the call.
"The first and most important thing for me in all of this is that I get to work with Rich," said Rosenberry. "We have a very unique and close relationship. We worked together for years in Seattle, and we really bonded. I know the Blazers are great organization, with their winning, their history, their ownership, and their fan base. That stuff is all important to me, but it's about the people. I think the world of Rich as a person, and I can't wait to help him lead this team into the future."
Rosenberry also looks forward to joining the rest of Cho's management team, and feels it'll be a seamless transition.
"I know Mike and Chad, and have great respect for what they have done," said Rosenberry. "They're young and enthusiastic. They're excited about where this team is. They helped build this team. This their baby. This team is very close, and these guys should get a ton of credit for that."
Cho has talked about wanting to surround himself with quality people who aren't afraid to give an opinion. He wants input, he wants teamwork, and he wants to win. After seeing him close up in Oklahoma City the last few years, Branch doesn't have to be sold on Cho's master plan.
"I think it's always good when you bring in people from different places," said Branch. "The way everyone does it is kind of unique. We can bring that stuff together, and it really helps. Our different experiences, and our different ideas, will really help with our culture and our vision."
Both Branch and Rosenberry realize they are walking into a unique situation, with a team that will likely require simply subtle tweaks rather than an overhaul.
"You first look at the assets, and the Blazers have plenty of those," said Rosenberry. They possess so many good young players. We'll get together, as a group, and try and find little ways to upgrade here and there. It was amazing what this team was able to do last season, and the national media never gives Portland its due. I'm a scout. I know. This is a very good team. Now that Rich is in charge, fans should be very confident that they'll take that next step."
"Rich is authentic and real," Branch added, of his new boss. "He's extremely smart. He's the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He has friendships in this league that have lasted for years. I'm so excited to be on his team, and can't wait to get to work."