Tag:Paul Allen
Posted on: June 24, 2010 7:57 pm

Who wants to work in Portland now?

NEW YORK -- Stunning news came down moments before the NBA draft began Thursday night. No, LeBron James didn't try to reinstate his college eligibility and join John Calipari at Kentucky. Something more unbelievable: The Trail Blazers fired GM Kevin Pritchard, telling him an hour before the draft that it would be his last day of work for the team.

Jason Quick of the Oregonian first reported the firing, which is surprising only for its bizarre timing. Pritchard's right-hand man, former assistant GM Tom Penn, was fired in March, and the writing has been on the wall for Pritchard ever since. Pritchard, who along with Penn was responsible for building one of the most competitive and financially successful franchises in the NBA, will presumably make the 22nd and 44th picks in Thursday's draft -- which he spent months preparing for -- and then start looking for work. Penn has found work already, at least temporarily; he was at the Theater at Madison Square Garden Thursday night working as a salary-cap analyst on ESPN's draft telecast.

According to the Oregonian, owner Paul Allen informed Pritchard of his dismissal Thursday night and instructed him to conduct the draft before leaving the organization. The Portland GM opening now joins a few leadership black holes around the league. The Suns didn't renew GM Steve Kerr's contract, and assistant GM David Griffin decided to leave the organization after being informed that there would be a formal search for Kerr's replacement. Denver GM Mark Warkentien's contract expires Aug. 31, and the organization has made no efforts to re-sign him. Danny Ainge's future in Boston also is up in the air with the possibility that coach Doc Rivers could step down.

As for the gaping hole left in the Portland front office by Pritchard's classless dismissal, the question becomes: Who would want to work for a franchise that treats its people the way the Blazers have treated Pritchard and Penn? The lure of the Blazers' roster and rabid fan base will be a huge calling card for any potential candidate, but buyer beware. Apparently, the money isn't great, either. One of the points of contention that led to Pritchard's ouster was his displeasure with his approximately $1 million salary -- not much more than assistant GMs make in other cities and a quarter of coach Nate McMillan's compensation. Pritchard had one year remaining on his contract.

According to a person familiar with the Blazers' internal dynamics, one option would be to appoint team president Larry Miller, head of the team's business operations, to serve as the figurehead replacement for Pritchard and hire a competent No. 2 to handle the day-to-day basketball decisions.

Posted on: November 16, 2009 11:11 pm

Blazers' thoughts with Allen

ATLANTA -- The Trail Blazers' six-game winning streak ended Monday night with a 99-95 overtime loss to the Hawks, whose home-and-home sweep of Portland serves as bookends for that streak. But after the game, coach Nate McMillan's thoughts were with someone far more important to the Blazers than Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, or even Brandon Roy.

Team owner Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and one of the most envied and respected owners in the NBA, has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The diagnosis came about a month ago, just when it appeared that Allen had beaten another health hurdle after undergoing heart surgery during the offseason. Nearly 25 years ago, Allen overcame Hodgkin's disease. 

"He is optimistic he can beat this, too," wrote his sister, Jody Allen, CEO of Allen's company, Vulcan, in a memo published on CNET's news site.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with him," McMillan said. "We just hope that he has a speedy recovery and he can get back to us as soon as possible. We’ve been thinking about him and praying for him. He’s a fighter, and we wish him well."

John Canzano of the Oregonian captured what Allen, 56, means to the Blazers in this preseason column, in which he explained Allen's sickly appearance late last season and during Portland's playoff run. Having undergone a prior valve surgery, Allen had another heart operation during the summer, when the Blazers' front office was busy trying to give $50 million of Allen's money to Hedo Turkoglu, who didn't want it.

"I'm fine, finally," Allen said during training camp. "I'm much, much better. I hit a few bumps in the road. Your health ... is the most important thing in the world, isn't it?"

Oh, what a dozen or more coaches and GMs in the NBA would do to have an owner like Allen. He doesn't meddle; well, OK, only a little. He runs the team in a first-class way, spends some of the billions he has earned, and cares about what happens. He cares about the fans because, well, he is a fan. Assuming he was watching on TV Monday night, he would've been disappointed that the Blazers frittered away a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. But he would've understood why. His team returns home to the Rose Garden to face the Pistons Wednesday night, having just won four road games in five nights before falling in overtime to the Hawks.

"He’s always done whatever our organization needed for him to do to put us in the best position," McMillan said. "We just wish him well."

Allen also owns the Seattle Seahawks, but everybody knows his heart beats to the rhythm of the Blazers. Here's hoping for the kind of comeback he loves to applaud.

Category: NBA
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