Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
Blog Entry

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:15 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 10:22 pm
Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

Every month or so, it's a good idea to check in with the Portland Trail Blazers to get the latest update on their lack of progress towards hiring a general manager.

Thursday's news: The Oregonian reports that the GM search, which included interviews with more than four candidates, none of whom spoke directly with owner Paul Allen, will start over from scratch.
A league source said the Blazers have decided against hiring any of the candidates they have interviewed to date and that Blazers president Larry Miller spent Thursday calling them to relay the news they were no longer being considered for the job.

"I don't want to get into specific details, but what I will say is that we are expanding our search," Miller said. "We're going to expand our candidate pool."

Miller refused to divulge the people he has interviewed. He also would not detail any of the names on his new, expanded list. But The Oregonian has learned that former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower and Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski will be among the targets.
Since firing former GM Rich Cho back in May, less than a year after the team's previous GM, Kevin Pritchard, was fired on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, the Blazers have taken a number of unusual steps. They promoted their director of college Chad Buchanan to an "Acting GM" role, then later informed him he would not get to keep the position full-time. They interviewed a group of assistant GM candidates but apparently were unable to identify a favorite and decided to scrap that route.

Keep in mind: the Blazers currently have Cho's two assistant GMs under contract and two heads of scouting that date back to Pritchard's reign. All four men specialize in player evaluation and the team's front office lacks anyone with extensive experience negotiating contracts, an inside-out understanding of the collective bargaining agreement and experience planning and managing the team's salary cap. Those are huge holes. President Larry Miller has taken on some of those duties in the past, although he is supposed to be primarily responsible for overseeing the team's business operations.

After all this time, the Blazers are now turning their attention to former GMs, candidates that obviously boast a greater degree of executive experience than their previous candidates and would likely fit Portland's needs better than most first-time GM candidates. Why did it take Miller and his staff this long to hone in on experienced candidates? Who knows. He's failed to divulge his candidate targets from the beginning of the process, so it's difficult to say for certain. There is, of course, the obvious financial explanation: not hiring a GM saves the cost of at least one salary during the lockout, and multiple salaries if the GM is allowed to bring along one or two hand-picked subordinates.

Make no mistake: Bower and Stefanski are not A-list candidates. Bower most recently served as GM of the New Orleans Hornets but was pushed out in the summer of 2010, amidst rumors of star point guard Chris Paul's unhappiness. Stefanski has been the GM or president of the Philadelphia 76ers, who are recently under new ownership and reportedly considering a change of direction, since 2007. Prior to that, he was GM of the New Jersey Nets, where he had his most success.

Regardless of who gets the job and when, the new GM will be answering to both Miller and Allen, a demanding, eccentric and rash billionaire who is prone to impulsive decisions. Allen's expectation is a deep playoff run and it's unclear whether any candidate -- no matter how supremely talented -- can last more than a season without delivering at least one playoff series victory, something Portland hasn't managed since the 1999-2000 season, the longest such drought in the league.

Miller recently told that he "hopes" to have a GM in place by the end of the lockout, but he stopped short of guaranteeing that, saying instead that the Blazers could make do with Buchanan heading up the rest of the staff as a stopgap measure.

For a team that annually has sky-high internal expectations, the Blazers sure seem to enjoy setting themselves up for failure recently.

Since: Jan 3, 2010
Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:36 pm

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

er...impulse control.

Since: Jan 3, 2010
Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:34 pm

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

We jumped into bed with Cho before we really knew who he was or what we wanted.  It makes sense and shows that we are learning from our mistakes that we are taking our time this time around.  Not to mention we have more time due to the lockout. Kudos to Miller and Allen for exercising some impulre control...for once.

Since: Feb 18, 2011
Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:36 pm

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

Get a deal done already!

Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: October 7, 2011 3:19 pm

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

I agree 100% Lee. Hopefully they take all the time they need and get it right this time. Its to obad Buchannen doesn't get the job but on a positive note he hs a very good scout.
Go Blazers!

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: October 7, 2011 12:03 am

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

Larry Miller seems impervious to public opinion. The former Nike executive has seen his basketball side struggle to perform since Kevin Pritchard was fired (reportedly for lying to Paul Allen.) But Larry Miller announced this last summer that he was seeking someone with GM experience, then interviewed four without that experience. That is puzzling.

The Blazers represent a premier job in the league with Allen able to pay top dollar for his GM. He has a stable of young and talented players, a top-drawer coach and first class facilities in a city that breathes Blazers. The only difficult part of the job is you have to be amenable to Paul Allen. He talks with his GM every day and needs someone to interact with him that gives him confidence and trust. The last two were unable to deliver. Perhaps there is a candidate out there that completely fits the bill. Perhaps not. The Blazers do not need to rush because Chad Buchanan is a very capable interim GM and because knowledge of the CBA is meaningless in a year when the owners want major changes to that document. In the meantime they do save money. And every day they can be thankful they do not have Kahn for a GM.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or