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.
The 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.