The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey, the general manager and head of basketball operations, on Friday citing “an independent review of concerns and complaints about our work environment at the practice facility.”
In a statement posted on social media, the Blazers gave no further details, saying, “Out of respect for those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it.”
The Blazers did not immediately respond to a request from NewsMadura for more details about the nature of the concerns and complaints that prompted Olshey’s resignation.
Olshey, who also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, was hired as general manager of the Blazers in 2012 and was promoted to president of basketball operations in 2015. During his tenure, Portland made it to the playoffs eight years in a row, but only won four playoff series.
Growing up in Queens, Olshey began his NBA career with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003 as director of player development. He then steadily climbed through the organization until he was named vice president of basketball operations in 2010. His most famous move was acquiring star point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011.
In July, Olshey and the Blazers were criticized for hiring Chauncey Billups, the former point guard, as Portland’s head coach, because Billups had been charged with sexual assault in 1997. According to many, the organization conducted an incomplete investigation into the accusation against Billups as part of the application process.
When asked about the investigation at the press conference announcing Billups’ hiring, Olshey said: “The findings of that incident confirmed Chauncey’s memory of the events that nothing happened without mutual consent. We stand behind Chauncey.”
After a reporter pressed for details, Olshey called the findings “property” and added: “You’ll have to take our word for it that we hired an experienced company that conducted an investigation that gave us the results we already have.” have discussed. ”
In early November, the Blazers announced they were conducting a workplace survey regarding “concerns” at their practice facility, but did not say who the focus of the concerns was. Multiple news reports, including from The Athletic and Yahoo Sports, quoted anonymous sources as saying the investigation was aimed at Olshey, but a team spokesperson declined to comment when asked if this was the case.
In Friday’s statement about Olshey’s resignation, the team said: “We are confident these changes will help build a more positive and respectful work environment.”
The Blazers also cited unspecified “violations” of the team’s code of conduct.
Olshey’s most significant basketball move for the Blazers was drafting Damian Lillard, now one of the NBA’s biggest stars, with the sixth pick of the 2012 draft. But the franchise has struggled to place Lillard talent at the championship level, where Lillard publicly expressed his frustration this summer.
The Blazers have hired Joe Cronin, the team’s director of player staff who joined the franchise as an intern in 2006, as interim general manager.