Who in the world is going to be the next general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers? Who would want to be might be the better question. OK, sure, I’d take the gig for one year, but anybody that takes the GM job in Portland better go in with a clear understanding that he likely won’t be there long.
For the fourth time in five years, the Blazers are looking for a new GM following the firing of Rich Cho just ten months into his tenure. Yet again the upheaval comes due to a clash of personalities with owner Paul Allen. I’m starting to wonder — and I’m not alone based on the number of call-ins from fans during the following interview — if anyone in their right mind can get along with Allen to the point of keeping their job for more than one season.
The previous GM before Cho, Kevin Pritchard, couldn’t last because he was seemingly too much of a people person. Cho was the opposite, and has many people dissecting his job based on the fact that he wanted to suspend Brandon Roy following public comments about playing time during the first round of the playoffs. Portland president Larry Miller says the franchise hopes to find a middle ground. But at this rate, not even that will likely be good enough.
Larry Miller joined The Bald Faced Truth in Portland to discuss the relationship between Allen and Cho, the track record for Portland being a revolving door for GMs, what kind of GM the franchise is looking for at this point, what will change in the hiring process, finding some middle ground personality between the last two guys to hold the job, if they might consider giving Nate McMillan more power and if Allen really understands what it takes to win.
How did the relationship of owner Paul Allen and general manager Rich Cho break down?:
“I think it’s communication and chemistry and I think, initially, you’re right, there was a connection there during the initial interview, but I think as time went on, that connection just never really developed, never got where it needed to be.”
Does it hurt the Blazers that they have a track record of young GMs not working out?:
“I still think, and I said this earlier, that this is a great job for the right person. It’s just a matter of us finding the right person for the job. We’ve got an owner that’s willing to spend money to bring players in here. We’ve got an owner that is committed to winning and trying to win and also loves the game of basketball. Having that kind of owner, for the right person in that GM role, I think this is still a great job.”
What kind of GM does Paul Allen want to run the team based on the last two having trouble?:
“That’s a part of what we’re going to be looking at. … What can we learn from those two situations and how can we avoid either of those two situations the next time around. … We’re going to take our time, we’re going to totally assess everything that we’ve learned and then we’re going to develop criteria and qualifications for who that next person should be.”
How can the team advance forward when the GM spot seems to be a revolving door?:
“Well the plan is to not have an open-door policy but the plan is to have the right person in place. I think that’s the goal, that’s what we’re going to look to do. … We just need to continue to learn from what we’ve done in the past and look to bring the right person in here. We’re going to continue to move forward.”
Can you give an example of the lack of chemistry between Paul Allen and Rich Cho?:
“I can’t say that there was a specific event, but it’s just like any relationship when you feel the chemistry is not there, the connection is not there. Sometimes it’s not a specific event that makes that happen, but you kind of feel it. The communication is really the key and the communication was not there.”
What will change about the hiring process given four GMs in five years?:
“We’re not going to rush. We are going to look back over what mistakes or what we’ve done wrong over the last couple of times. … I think we’re going to take the learnings from the things that have happened and really look to move forward.”
After having somebody that’s a great communication guy and then somebody that’s at the other end of that spectrum, are they looking for middle ground?:
“That sounds like a good assessment and I think, again, we’re going to look into it and try to figure it out. It does sound like we’re looking for that right balance.”
Have they considered giving more power to Nate McMillan?:
“As we go through the process, that could be something we look at. I think that Nate, though, has a pretty big job and pretty big responsibility with being the coach. Again, we won’t absolutely rule that out.”
Is Paul Allen out of touch with what it takes to win?:
“I don’t. I definitely don’t think that’s the case. He’s a student of the game, he knows the game and I think he’s got to feel that the team of people that are working for him bring the things to the table that he’s looking for. … I think, thought, that he’s committed to winning and people need to understand he’s still writing a big check at the end of the year to keep this team here and keep this team going. And he enjoys coming down to the games; he enjoys being the owner of the team. … People just need to understand that we’re trying to make it better.”