Jun 05

Olshey Picks Portland

By mikebarrett Posted in: Clippers, neilolshey
Monday evening the Trail Blazers announced that their search for a new general manager had come to a close.  Tuesday evening, Neil Olshey will be introduced in front of the Portland media as the man who will now head up the Blazers' basketball business.

Olshey's path to this role is just about as interesting as his last few days have been, and has about had just as many twists and turns.  For weeks he's been listed as a candidate to fill the position in Portland, even as it came down to essentially a three-man race.  But, just before the weekend, it appeared Olshey's name was about to be scratched off the list.  

The Clippers, who reportedly had Olshey working on a month-to-month deal last season, were ready to step up and offer security and a raise.  The framework of an agreement was reportedly nearing it's conclusion and the national reports said the man who finished third in the Executive of the Year voting last season was off the market.  But, as we found out later, the Clippers may have felt as though the deal was nearing it's final stages, but Olshey didn't, and hadn't signed anything.  

NEIL OLSHEYThe Trail Blazers, perhaps spurred on by those reports, took another solid run at Olshey over the weekend.  By the time the Clippers said they would match any offer from Portland (as reported by Chris Haynes from CSNNW.com), it was too late.  Olshey essentially ended up with two identical offers, and chose Portland.  

For Blazer fans, that should be a very positive sign about this opportunity, and how the ownership, in Portland is viewed nationally.  Olshey has been given a ton of credit for turning the Clippers around, and for changing the culture within that organization, and for him to jump ship for basically the same money, says a lot.

So many times in professional sports, as everyone always says, it's simply about the money.

This time, apparently, it isn't.

If you're reading this, then you're enough of a fan to have done your own homework on Olshey, and probably have a pretty good grasp of his background.  It isn't hard to find glowing comments about Olshey from players, coaches, and agents alike.  He's been on all sides of the business.

In an article by Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN.com, Jason Kopono calls Olshey an "engaging, social, generous person."  Super agent Arn Tellem, in the same piece, says Olshey has "an incredible work ethic and a great ability to communicate with players, engage with them and connect with them."  Tellem continues, saying Olshey "in one conversation with him you knew he had a much deeper knowledge of the business."

It isn't very often you see someone, who is largely considered a "workout guy," quickly cross over to the front office and have this kind of success.  Olshey was a valuable scout for Mike Dunleavy, and then became an assistant coach on his staff with the Clippers.  Then, he decided to head upstairs into management.

Olshey had the courage to ask for an audience with LeBron James, during that process, and got it.  Even though James chose Miami, it was clear Olshey was confident enough to dream big, and wanted to flip the image of the Clippers.

Olshey later drafted Blake Griffin, started construction on the Clippers roster that helped them reach the second round of the playoffs.  The acquisitions of Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, and Kenyon Martin, are all on Olshey's resume as well.  As impressive as those moves are, getting an owner like Donald Sterling to buy into in a "plan" like this trumps them all.  

The ability to communicate, to believe in your own process and vision, and most importantly, to be able to effectively sell that to an owner, is a pretty good ability to possess in this business. Clearly, that's what the Blazers see in him.

What he sees in the Blazers though, is what ultimately got this done.

Much more to come.

Stay tuned to trailblazers.com, and trailblazers.tv throughout the day.  We'll be carrying the press conference, scheduled to begin at 4pm, live.  I'll be sitting down with Olshey for an exclusive one-on-one interview.  After the press conference, I'll be moderating a live chat with owner Paul Allen, from 5 to 5:30, and with Olshey from 5:30 to 6.
Previous Story: A Solid First Step


  1. first off, here's the link to the espn article mentioned, for anyone who is curious enough to read it. i enjoyed it.

    and second, the only thing negative i've really heard about olshey is that he traded the pick that became kyrie irving. what people should understand though is that at the time it was the 8th pick and only had a 2.8% chance of becoming a 1st overall pick. it was an understandable move and i wouldn't blame olshey one bit. that said, i am excited to see what gets done this off season and am looking forward to the draft. glad we have a gm with some credentials.

    by The Unholy on 6/5/2012 9:55 AM
  2. Mike I thank you for the blog. I have been working, and will finish reading and comment tomorrow.
    I am glad another piece of the puzzle is in place.
    Night all

    by Hg on 6/5/2012 11:27 PM
  3. it's nice to finally have a gm in place. count me as being dissatisfied with the handling of the GM position here over the past 24 months. what we have here is a guy with a track record, experience in the position and the connections around the league needed to be successful.

    also count me as someone who believes Chad did what he could, and did some good things but, in the end, was not the longterm aanswer. for the first time in a long time, i really feel like Paul has taken the first step in a long journey forward.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 6/6/2012 6:02 AM
  4. Hey Mike: read up a little on Olshey, I am not sure if he has communication skills or a gift to gab LOL.
    I have read that he is high on Chad so it appears that Chad will remain on the Blazers staff if he chooses to. that is very comforting. Also, Kaleb may be the head coach. Although if it is legal, or attainable, would like to see Kaleb go coach the development league in Idaho and get a more experienced head coach. But then what do I know? I think Kaleb will be great either place. It is just my way of having my cake and eat it too. Kaleb did great with the summer league he coached, and he did great at the end of this season with the new and unused bench players, so the Stampede is where I think his work would have more sucess, not that it would be a demotion on my part.

    by Hg on 6/6/2012 6:19 AM
  5. Hey Miss Kassandra, I am in your camp with your assessments, but I am glad that Chad may still be on the scouting team, he is a very valuable asset the the Blazers front office.

    by Hg on 6/6/2012 6:22 AM
  6. Now for a coach.

    by Ancientone on 6/6/2012 2:16 PM
  7. Ancientone: I think they are leaning with Kaleb, but I would like for Kaleb to coach the farm league and get GSW assistant coach as our head coach.

    by Hg on 6/6/2012 3:14 PM
  8. He did an excellent job for the situation, however I think that he needs more experience too. We gave him a wreck to drive and he got it home with the wheels still on. You don't give him a new experimental model that needs to be set up let alone fine tuned.

    by Ancientone on 6/7/2012 1:46 PM
  9. tone;
    It had flat tires but he did limp it home. I hope we think larger than handing the keys to an Indy car to a kid that just got his learners permit. I like Kaleb. I hope he continues to grow within the organization.
    Who knows who Paul will hire. He's not afraid of going the college route. Despite the bad experience that was PJ. i.e. Pete in Seattle.

    by Divotking on 6/7/2012 3:52 PM
  10. Mike, I am going to give Olshey the benefit of the doubt. I have heard this song too many times since 2003. When he said there are no quick fixes planned, we are headed for more years in the lottery. Allen is infatuated with draft picks and "potential". We are so far from being a contender it is unbelieveable.

    by Blazer rod on 6/7/2012 8:34 PM
  11. Two bothersome recent developments:

    (1) No Mike Malone as our possible next coach. Almost everyone raves about Malone as being more than ready for his turn at the helm. Some other good coaches that should at least be interviewed also. Nothing against Caleb except his relative inexperience. He still should be a top assistant for sure.

    (2) The idea, broached today by Jason Quick, that J. J. Hickson may not be back because his play at the end of last season put him out of our range salary-wise.
    That makes absolutely no sense to me -- he did all that good stuff for us! He's probably more valuable to the Blazers than to anyone else right now. And we need the kind of energy and inside play he brings every night!

    by dgpdx on 6/7/2012 9:33 PM
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