Tag:Larry Miller
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 12:59 am

Blazers will keep Brandon Roy, no amnesty

Posted by Ben Golliverbrandon-roy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The league's toughest amnesty clause decision has apparently been made.

The Oregonian reports that Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller announced Monday that the team will not use the amnesty clause on guard Brandon Roy unless he suffers an injury during the preseason prior to the deadline to waive players, which is still unknown.

"Our plan right now is not to use the amnesty," Miller told the paper. "We expect Brandon to be a part of this team when the season starts. He has been there for us, and we want him to know we are supporting him. [Owner] Paul [Allen] is on board with this and feels the same way.’"

The news comes just hours after Miller, Acting GM Chad Buchanan and coach Nate McMillan held a press conference in which they stopped just short of pledging that Roy, 27, would be back on the team.

Instead, the three men told reporters that they met with Roy, who is owed more than $63 million guaranteed over the next four seasons, and his agent, Greg Lawrence, face-to-face in Portland on Monday. The Blazers trio agreed that they were impressed by Roy's attitude and said that they were planning to see Roy in camp with hopes that he would be on the opening night roster.

"Brandon is in a great spot," Buchanan said. "I think he feels good. [He's] excited about the season."

Buchanan later added that it would take a "drastic change" for the Blazers to decide to waive Roy and that the team was approaching free agency with the understanding that their flexibility would be "limited" by their position in the luxury tax, a spot they could have avoided by waiving Roy.

Miller, meanwhile, spoke glowingly of Roy's mental and physical outlook.

"One thing that Brandon said today was that he feels much better coming into this season than he does coming into last season," Miller said. "His knees feel much better."

Roy underwent arthroscopic surgeries in both knees during the 2010-2011 season and played just 47 games. Following the surgeries, Roy moved to the bench and saw his minutes fluctuate. He posted career-lows in points, rebounds and assists last season.

"I think he had enough time off resting his knees [and] he went through his normal workout routine up in Seattle with NBA players, college players," Buchanan said. "He just made the comment to us that he feels really good right now. He's tested his knee in workouts, it feels very strong, he feels a lot different this year heading into camp than he did last year and he's very encouraged how his knees feel right now."

McMillan told reporters that Roy will be operating without minutes restrictions and that he hopes Roy will move back into a starting two guard role, although he noted that Roy told the Blazers taht he would be open to a reserve role if necessary.

"One of the things that you have to look at is Brandon going back into that starting lineup," McMillan said. "That's something you didn't see last year due to medical reasons. Brandon is feeling better so Brandon back at the two position is something that I'm leaning towards and making our adjustments from that."

Reports had surfaced in recent weeks that Allen had already made the decision to waive Roy. Miller denied that during an informal press conference last Wednesday and multiple team sources disputed the report in various ways, including on Twitter.
Posted on: November 30, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 10:04 pm

Blazers: Brandon Roy's future still up in air

Posted by Ben Golliverbrandon-roy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- For now, "The Natural" hangs in limbo.

With rumors swirling this week that the Portland Trail Blazers are planning to waive guard Brandon Roy using the amnesty clause, team president Larry Miller told reporters on Wednesday that the decision has not yet been made, but stopped short of saying that Roy will be in a Blazers uniform when the 2011-2012 regular season begins on Christmas.  

"No decision has been made on amnesty as of yet," Miller said. "We are still looking at every possible option that is available to us but we have not made a decision as far as Brandon or anyone at this point."

Roy, 27, is a 3-time NBA All-Star and 2-time All-NBA performer but has dealt with knee injuries since high school. He underwent arthroscopic surgeries on both knees during the 2010-2011 season and played in just 47 games. He is largely credited with leading a resurgent Blazers out of a franchise dark period, serving as the face of the franchise during three straight playoff appearances.

"For anyone who thinks that I'm just standing here saying that and it's not true, they don't know me," Miller said. "Anybody that knows me or has worked with me before, that's had interactions with me before, that's not how I operate. Again, unequivocally no definitive decision has been made about amnestying Brandon or any of our players."

The Blazers, like every NBA club, were allowed to begin contacting player agents on Wednesday morning. Miller noted that the team's acting general manager, Chad Buchanan, placed his first call to Roy's agent.

"The first call that Chad made this morning -- he counted the clock down at 5:59, 6:00 this morning -- his first call was to Brandon's agent to talk about how Brandon is doing [and ask] when we can sit down and have a conversation with Brandon," Miller said. "With everything that Brandon has done for this organization, there's no way we would make a decision like that without having conversations with them, without evaluating where he is and seeing what's going on with him."

Using the amnesty clause on Roy would remove his $15 million 2011-2012 from Portland's cap number and it would take them out of the luxury tax zone. In total, it would remove more than $63 million guaranteed of future salary commitments from their books. Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, Portland could use the amnesty clause prior to the beginning of the 2011-2012 season or prior to any of the three future years left on his deal.

Miller said the Blazers plan to evaluate Roy in-person before making a decision on whether to amnesty him immediately and that the team expects him to show up for training camp, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 9.  

"That would make sense, right? Brandon has done a lot for this organization. He's been one of the people who really helped this organization around. So to make a decision like that without looking at every possible factor involved in that decision just wouldn't make sense."

The team said Wednesday that the NBA has not yet informed them of the deadline for making amnesty decisions.

Roy has spent the lockout in his hometown of Seattle working out with other NBA players from the area. Free agent guard Jamal Crawford, a close friend, and Sacramento Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas, a fellow University of Washington product, are among the players to vouch for Roy's game and health, even though his statistics tumbled across the board last year.

Roy's agent is painting a positive picture as well according to Miller. 

"He said that Brandon is feeling good," Miller said. "He feels like he's able to play and that he is willing to sit down and talk to us so we're going to continue that conversation. We basically have asked the agent to set up a time for Brandon to sit down with us. Hopefully, and I don't know the answer to this, because we haven't been able to talk to Brandon, I'm hoping he will be here when we open the doors tomorrow."

Still, despite all of the gratitude for Roy's services and the obvious logic in delaying the decision, Miller hinted that the financial realities and injury issues are factors the team must look at hard.

"It's not like it's unknown that Brandon had health issues last year," Miller admitted. "Everybody knows that. But, again, what Brandon did for this organization, what he's meant to this community, what he's meant to this team, there would be no way we would make a decision like this without looking at every possible factor involved."

This week, Blazers fans sent hundreds of Twitter messages to team owner Paul Allen campaigning for him to bring back Roy. Miller said those voices would be a part of the team's decision-making process, too. 

"We're going to look at every factor involved including the fan factor. For us to say, 'Hey we're just going to do this and not consider how the fans feel about it, how the community feels about it' -- we're going to look at all of that. Our goal is and continues to be to make our team better. To try to get better as a team, to try to win. That's what all of our decisions are going to be based off of."

The most genuine moment came when Miller was asked to assess the overall state of his roster, which also includes a decision on chronically-injured center Greg Oden.

"If we have a healthy Greg and a healthy Brandon we've got a great roster," Miller mused. "If there's some issues there then we've got to figure out what we are going to do."

It sounded hopeful and ominous in the same breath.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 12:07 am

Report: Blazers stop GM search because of lockout

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

Shut it down.

The Portland Trail Blazers are reportedly halting their search for Rich Cho's replacement nearly six months after the team's former GM was abruptly fired back in May. 

The Oregonian reports that the Blazers don't think the search is worth it now that the players have filed antitrust lawsuits against the league.
According to an NBA source with knowledge of the Trail Blazers' thinking, the team has decided to "pause" their search for a new GM.

“There’s been a decision to push the pause button on the search,” the source said. “To go out and spend a bunch of money on a high-paying GM job doesn’t make sense right now,” the source said. “With what has happened the last week or so (in the lockout), it made a lot of sense to put the search on pause.”

With the 2011-12 season in jeopardy, the money the Blazers would have spent on a new GM will instead go to protect jobs in the organization.
This development isn't all that surprising, as Portland's search has been muddled from the beginning and apparently stalled for several months now. The team never publicly expressed a clear set of criteria for their ideal candidate and generally refused comment throughout the summer. They were looking for an excuse to back out of the search. The lockout plus this week's legal develpments combines to provide perfect cover.

While Portland's decision is not a particularly positive sign that the NBA and its players will reach a new labor deal to save a portion of the 2011-2012 season, it's not necessarily a definitive indication that the season will be lost either. Back in September, after a round of interviews produced no clear favorites, team president Larry Miller told CBSSports.com that the Blazers were prepared to enter a post-lockout period without a new GM in place. 

Blazers owner Paul Allen, the league's wealthiest owner, has reportedly emerged during the ongoing collective bargaining agreement as a staunch hard-liner and has advocated that the league address the disparity between its large-market and small-market teams. Miller said in September that none of the interviewed candidates had been forwarded to Allen for a second interview. Allen, a notoriously demanding owner, has fired two GMs -- Cho and his predecessor, Kevin Pritchard -- as well as former vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn in the last 20 months.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:15 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 10:22 pm

Blazers restart GM search; eye Bower, Stefanski?

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 CBSSports.com 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.
Posted on: September 23, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 3:11 pm

7 lost stories from canceled NBA preseason

Posted by Ben Golliver


On Friday, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported the dreadful news that we've all been fearing: the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have failed to reach a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in time, meaning training camp and portions of the preseason schedule have been indefinitely postponed and/or canceled.

Preseason is always a fun time of the NBA calendar, guaranteed to be chockfull of "Player X added 15 pounds of muscle" and "Lottery team Y finally seems poised for a playoff push" stories. Of course, no preseason means no preseason stories. No hype, no hope. More Adam Silver, more David Stern. What a bummer. 

So here's a rundown of seven stories you would have been reading had the NBA and the NBPA gotten their collective act together in time to save the schedule. These stories are lost everywhere, except for here.

1. Security Detains Eddy Curry Outside AmericanAirlines Arena

MIAMI -- It appears that Eddy Curry will not be joining the Miami Heat after all.

Following nearly a year of reports indicating that Curry had lost an NBA-record 468 pounds since he was released by the Minnesota Timberwolves at least year's trade deadline, the free agent center was forcibly removed from AmericanAirlines Arena property by a cadre of four security guards on Tuesday. The use of force was deemed necessary after direct requests to leave from Heat president Pat Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were not heeded. 

"We didn't want to do it but we really had no choice," said Joseph Watkins, the guard assigned to carry Curry's left leg. "I was just following orders."

"What can I say? I got my hopes up," Curry explained. "I kept reading over and over that Miami was interested in me and I thought I could help LeBron [James] win a ring finally. I thought they would change their mind if I showed I was determined. I guess they wanted to go a different direction."

After the trimmed-down center had been dragged to an auxiliary parking lot, Riley briefly asked a reporter who Curry was before returning to the Heat's training session, which was closed to the media. When practice broke, Spoelstra indicated that the defending Eastern Conference champions were comfortable with their center rotation of Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Dexter Pittman, Juwan Howard, Chris Webber, and Bill Wennington, and are not in the market for another big man.

"We like our guys," Spoelstra said.

Curry told the Associated Press that he isn't sure when or where his next basketball opportunity will come but did indicate that he would like to have the plastic handcuffs removed from his wrists, or at least loosened, as soon as possible.

2. Bloody Prank Signals Rift Between Thunder Stars?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- A severed head was discovered inside a backpack belonging to Kevin Durant on Friday.

The Thunder's All-Star forward pulled the ghoulish, plastic mask -- which bore an uncanny resemblance to coach Scottie Brooks and had been doused in ketchup to simulate the appearance of blood -- out of his signature carry-all following an evening workout. With a look of bewilderment, Durant tossed the mask into a nearby trash can before returning to the team's practice court to work on his free throw shooting.

"I'm just out here trying to get better," Durant said, shrugging off his unsettling discovery.

It's not yet known who placed the mask in Durant's backpack, although suspicion was immediately cast upon Russell Westbrook. The mercurial guard led the NBA in postseason technical fouls in 201, rarely passes the ball because he's so self-involved and sometimes has a "funny look" -- according to multiple teammates -- in his eyes. Center Kendrick Perkins apparently implicated Westbrook in the incident when he stormed out of the practice facility, repeatedly yelling the words, "I told y'all! I told y'all!" 

The incident raises anew the question of whether Oklahoma City's two All-Stars will be capable of coexisting as their careers and games develop.

"Halloween is Monday," Westbrook said, cryptically, before rushing a free-throw extended jump shot and completely hurdling teammate Eric Maynor to claim the offensive rebound.

Thunder president Sam Presti did not offer an alibi for himself, but what else is new?

3. Rivers: More Needed From Rondo For Green To Succeed

BOSTON -- Nine months after the most controversial trade in recent Boston Celtics history, coach Doc Rivers continued to defend forward Jeff Green from media criticism.

A lightly sprained ankle for starting center Jermaine O'Neal caused local sports talk radio hosts and callers to go into hysterics on Monday, rehashing the ill-fated swap that brought Green to Boston in exchange for starting center Kendrick Perkins, who was sent to Oklahoma City.

"Jeff is still getting acclimated, and [president] Danny [Ainge] and I still believe he will be a key piece for us," Rivers said.

During the portion of practice open to the media, Green dribbled the ball off of his foot, missed three three-pointers, was late on two defensive assignments and appeared to frustrate aging forward Kevin Garnett, who was seen shaking his head sadly rather than barking instructions like usual.

When pressed, Rivers said that the eventual solution to what he called Green's "learning curve issues" will have to come from All-Star starting point guard Rajon Rondo.

"Rondo gets him wide open jumpers, wide open lay-ups, makes 10 plays a game defensively, and he leads by example," Rivers said. "But I have eyes, you have eyes. You can see it. It's clearly not enough. We're looking for Rondo to keep leading and to do even more, to carry all of us. [But] especially Jeff."

Pausing for a moment, Rivers, to the surprise of the media present, chose to vividly underscore his previous point.

"I don't care if Rondo dislocates both of his elbows at the same time so his arms are hanging off of his body backwards, he will need to carry Jeff."

Asked to respond to Rivers' comments, Rondo stared ahead blankly, as always.

4. Greg Oden No-Shows At Day One Of Blazers Camp

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Once again, the gym is full of NBA players and hopefuls.  Once again, the biggest one among them is missing.

The Portland Trail Blazers opened training camp to the media for the first time on Monday, only to reveal that center Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, was nowhere to be found. Oden, who signed a 5-year, $70 million extension during the early-October free agency period, has played just 82 games in his 4-year NBA career and has rarely been available to the media since suffering his most recent in Nov. 2010.

Through a spokesperson, Blazers president Larry Miller refused to comment about Oden's status, leaving new GM Brandon Roy -- who was promoted to the position after Miller used the amnesty clause to rid the Blazers of the four years remaining on his contract -- to face the media scrutiny alone. Roy said the team would not rush its center back to the court, noting that Oden's recovery from microfracture knee surgery was still "on schedule," although he did not divulge further specifics.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan looked irritated by the questions. "I've got 18 guys here fighting hard to grab one of our roster spots, let's talk about them," McMillan said.

Mike Conley, Sr., Oden's agent, offered a possible explanation by email. "Rehabilitation has kept Greg off the court for almost a year. During that time, in addition to completing a multi-disciplinary strength and flexibility training program, Greg has worked hard on improving and honing his invisibility. I'm pleased to hear that his work has evidently paid off. How many 7-footers do you know that can literally disappear in the blink of an eye? We feel this will make him even more valuable in the years to come."

Oden's whereabouts are not currently known at this time. His status for Portland's season opener is also up in the air.

"We'll just have to see," said McMillan.

Or not.

5. Kings Guard Completes First Pass

SACRAMENTO -- Kings coach Paul Westphal couldn't help but beam. After all, he had just witnessed an important milestone for his young team.

"I've been preaching unselfishness and ball movement all week and it was great to finally see these guys take that message to heart and execute it," Westphal said, his shirt soaked with sweat.

After back-to-back-back two-a-day practices and a morning session that yielded no progress, Jimmer Fredette became the team's first guard to complete a pass during scrimmage play on Thursday night. Prior to the pass, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and free agent signing Jamal Crawford had each managed to take a shot, draw a foul or commit a turnover on all of their possessions. Meanwhile, rookie point guard Isaiah Thomas, arguably the team's best playmaker on paper, left the practice facility on Tuesday after being frozen out for 263 straight trips up the court and hasn't been heard from since. A team official assured CBSSports.com that the organization is "not alarmed."

Fredette's pass occurred when he inadvertently took the ball out of bounds following a made basket by Evans. Looking confused, and with no other option other than committing a five-second violation, Fredette reluctantly inbounded the ball to Thornton, who promptly dribbled coast-to-coast, only to have his running lay-up attempt swatted out of bounds by center DeMarcus Cousins. Westphal shouted encouragement -- "That's what I'm talking about!" -- and blew his whistle, briefly stopping practice to single out Fredette for praise.

"It was nothing, really," Fredette said, afterwards, looking a touch sheepish.

6. Adelman Closes Practices To Timberwolves Executives

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- Two hours after a minor shouting match erupted between Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and president David Kahn on Monday, the two men pledged publicly that they had put the matter behind them.

"Direct communication is integral to creating a winning atmosphere," Kahn told a group of reporters on Monday afternoon. "Rick and I exchanged ideas, as we often do, and we were able to come to a resolution that is amenable to both parties. We thank you for your interest but this matter has been resolved. We look forward to a successful year."

The dispute, two league sources said, began when Adelman chided Kahn for openly cheering for rookie point guard Ricky Rubio, while wearing a Rubio jersey, in front of the entire team. That exchange escalated when Adelman decided to play veteran Luke Ridnour with the starting unit, instead of Rubio, prompting Kahn to yell loudly, "Come on!" 

According to the sources, Adelman then threatened to quit on the spot, issuing a "you go or I go" ultimatum just weeks after formally accepting the position and signing a 4-year contract.

"This is my team and I make the coaching decisions," Adelman told reporters bluntly after practice. "That's it. Any other questions?"

The resolution, according to sources, will keep Kahn and other team executives off the practice court for the rest of training camp, although indications are that Kahn and Adelman have agreed to revisit the matter once the regular season begins.

Rubio, who competed for the Spanish national team at this summer's EuroBasket tournament, finished Monday's scrimmage with 0 points and two assists in 37 minutes.

7. Thibodeau Thanks Fans, Admits They Could Be Right

CHICAGO -- The Bulls held an intra-squad scrimmage at the United Center on Friday, allowing fans and season ticket holders the rare opportunity to watch the team go through its paces free of charge.

NBA MVP Derrick Rose drew the loudest cheers and the longest line of pre-game admirers, Luol Deng pledged $10,000 to charity at halftime, and new free agent signing J.R. Smith, who bought his own way out of a one-year contract he signed to play in China, autographed a diehard fan's neck with a tattoo gun. But the clear highlight of the festivities came when the NBA's reigning Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, took a microphone at center court just before tipoff to thank Bulls fans for their loyal support during the team's run to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

"You guys are the best fans in the league," Thibodeau said, to wild applause. "We hear you loud and clear every night. You give us a true home court advantage and we, all of us, from me to the players, appreciate it."

Seemingly overwhelmed by the extended standing ovation he received, Thibodeau shuffled quickly to the sideline before catching himself and returning to the microphone to offer a final thought.

"Just to let you know," the defensive mastermind continued, "We also hear you loud and clear about Carlos Boozer."

The simple mention of the power forward's name elicited instinctive and ravenous booing from the fans, who were in no mood to forgive Boozer's disappointing showing in the 2011 NBA Playoffs and the team's controversial decision not to use the Amnesty Clause to shed his massive contract during free agency.

"Yes, we've received thousands of letters, text messages, phone calls and emails. For the sanity of Illinois' hard-working postal workers, please stop sending them. We understand that you think he is soft, that he isn't good enough to be a No. 2 guy, and that he isn't clutch enough to put us over the top against Miami."

Here, the second-year head coach drew a breath and exhaled, the long, lonely nights in his office preparing schemes and reading the fan correspondence clearly weighing upon his heart.

"Look, you're probably right about all of it. But how the hell are we going to trade him?"

Boozer, who mysteriously broke his hand for the second consecutive offseason, was not medically cleared to play in the scrimmage and was not available to provide a statement. Nobody noticed or cared.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 7:26 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 8:07 pm

Blazers president Miller confirms GM interviews

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

PORTLAND, Ore. -- More than 100 days after "parting ways" with former GM Rich Cho weeks before the 2011 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers have yet to hire Cho's full-time replacement.

Blazers president Larry Miller did finally confirm that the GM search process has progressed in a telephone interview with CBSSports.com on Monday.

"We have talked to and interviewed some candidates," Miller said. "I'm not going to mention any names but we have interviewed candidates."

Yahoo Sports has reported that the Blazers are eying Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver, San Antonio Spurs executive Dennis Lindsey and former Golden State Warriors executive Chris Mullin, while ESPN.com added Cleveland Cavaliers executive David Griffin and Los Angeles Clippers executive Neil Olshey to the list.

Miller refused to confirm any of those names but did say that he has interviewed "more than four" candidates in a "formal" setting. That interview process has yet to include owner Paul Allen, though.

"The process is running smoothly," Miller said, after weeks of refusing to comment about the GM search. "I think we feel good about what we we've gone through in terms of identifying potential candidates. It's gone pretty smoothly. But we're not going to rush, we're going to continue to take our time, with the goal of bringing in the right person that is going to be able to provide some consistency for us."

Miller said that the organization has settled on the ideal criteria of a prospective candidate, as laid out in a vague plan following the announcement of Cho's depature, but he would not divulge what that might be.

"I don't want to get into any of the details, but we have come to an agreement on what the skillset is we're looking for."

Miller has never been the most popular executive in Portland. His failed efforts to restructure and expand the team's television distribution deal and the firings of Pritchard and Cho have made him an obvious target for critics, who say he is now afraid to make promises that he won't be able to keep. Earlier this summer, he admitted that he rushed the hiring of Cho to the detriment of his organization and vowed to avoid that mistake during the current hiring process. 

"Our position has been that we are not going to play the search out in the media," Miller said. "I'm going to stick with that position. We are trying to do what we think is best for the organization and bring in the best possible person that we can. That's why we are taking the approach that we are taking. It's not about being afraid to make promises or anything like that."

Even though the process has dragged for an entire summer, there is no clear end in sight. Miller said it was his "hope" that the Blazers would have a full-time GM in place when the Blazers are back on the court, but he passed on the opportunity to guarantee it.

"That's our hope for sure," Miller said. "I'm not going to put any kind of timeline out there. I'm going to stick with that. I'm not going to lock us into any timeline."

He also said the Blazers were prepared to enter a free agency period without a full-time GM, relying instead on Acting GM Chad Buchanan if need be.

"I would hope to [hire a GM before the free agency period]," Miller said. "But we are prepared in the event that we don't. I think Chad and the rest of the team there have continued to work on preparing us for that so once free agency does open up we're going to be ready for it whether we have a GM in place or we don't have a permanent GM in place. We feel confident that Chad and the team will have us ready for that in the event that there's not a GM in place at that point."

The organization's drawn out, cloak and dagger approach to finding a replacement for Cho, who was fired less than a year after former GM Kevin Pritchard was deposed on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, has worn on many fans in Portland. Miller acknowledged that he is feeling some disengagement with the team's rabid fanbase this summer and that he "definitely" understands their frustration.

"This is always a down time for us anyway," Miller said. "Usually, before training camp starts, things are a little bit quiet in terms of fan interaction. It's kind of typical... There's a lot that we can't talk about right now. Because of that, it is creating some issues with our ability to engage with fans. It is what it is. That's where we are at this point. But I do understand what you're saying [about fan frustration] and I think there is some validity to it."

Even if the Blazers haven't hired a new GM, there have been executive moves: the team's senior vice president of business affairs resigned in June and two long-time media executives were let go in July. 

"I would paint those moves as restructuring moves," Miller said. "They were all individual situations. We constantly look at our organization, evaluate it from a structure perspective and decide what changes we need to make."

Finally, Miller confirmed that longtime, popular assistant coach Bill Bayno, who will reportedly join the Minnesota Timberwolves to serve as an assistant under Rick Adelman, will not be back next season.

"I can confirm that we haven't re-signed Bill," Miller said. "We are looking to fill that position. That's really going to be [coach] Nate [McMillan]'s call for the most part. I think the way the situation will work, Nate will talk about it with myself and Chad and his other assistants. At the end of the day it will be Nate's call."
Posted on: September 3, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 5:49 pm

Report: Blazers begin GM interviews

Posted by Ben Golliverlarry-miller

It has been more than 100 days since the Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager Rich Cho in the weeks leading up to the 2011 NBA Draft. And, finally, it appears the Blazers are moving towards finding a full-time GM.

Yahoo Sports reports that Blazers president Larry Miller has begun assembling a list of candidates and interviewing them.
The Portland Trail Blazers have started the interview process for their vacant general manager’s job, meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder executive Troy Weaver in Portland on Thursday, NBA front-office sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Portland has also received permission to interview Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Lindsey has spoken to Blazers officials by phone, but no formal face-to-face has yet been scheduled, a source said.

Blazers president Larry Miller has expressed a strong interest in former Golden State Warriors GM Chris Mullin, sources said. Mullin’s expected to talk with the Blazers too, sources said.

Cho's firing came less than one year after he was hired to replace former GM Kevin Pritchard and saw Portland's director of college scouting, Chad Buchanan, installed as the team's Acting GM. In August, Portland made the decision that Buchanan would not be given the job permanently, but the organization has dragged its feet during the process because of the ongoing lockout.

Cho has been hired by the Charlotte Bobcats to serve as GM while Pritchard was picked up by the Indiana Pacers to serve as the team's director of player personnel.

The Blazers still have Cho's hand-picked assistant GMs under contract -- Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry -- and also retain Buchanan and director of pro scouting Mike Born in their basketball operations department, who report to Miller who in turn reports to owner Paul Allen. The staff's glaring weakness is a lack of salary cap and collective bargaining agreement expertise, as Cho filled those roles and the team's previous cap expert, vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn, was abruptly fired in 2010 and now works as a television analyst.

Candidates will likely approach the Portland job warily given Allen's erratic behavior recently. The roster is a mixed bag, with a potential perennial All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge but also a burdensome contract in Brandon Roy and a giant enigman named Greg Oden. The team has qualified for the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, though, and has a solid coach in Nate McMillan locked into a multi-year extension. Internal expectations are always sky-high thanks to the demanding Allen, but he has shown a financial commitment to winning in recent years, giving a contract extension to center Marcus Camby, trading for Gerald Wallace and the remaining dollars on his contract, extending a qualifying offer to Greg Oden and bestowing lucrative extensions on both Aldridge and Roy.

Pointing Allen's pocketbook in the right direction -- while staying on his good side -- will be the name of this game.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 7:57 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 8:15 pm

Blazers president Larry Miller denies GM rumors

Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller denies rumors concerning his team's open GM position. Posted by Ben Golliver. larry-miller

DALLAS -- Rumors are still swirling around the Portland Trail Blazers' vacant GM position, but team president Larry Miller continued to insist on Monday that his team hasn't begun the formal search process to find a replacement for Rich Cho, who was fired in May.

"I just want to make it clear that all this speculation about meetings today and all this other stuff is absolutely not true," Miller said. "None of it is true. [Owner] Paul [Allen] is still out of the country. I’m in Dallas. There are no meetings that are going on and, again, our focus right now is on the draft.

"We haven’t compiled a list. We haven’t really started to go through a process of looking for a candidate, so any of the rumors that are out there are just that: rumors. Because they are not true."

Rumors surfaced on Monday morning that the Blazers had had internal conversations about possibly bringing back former GM Kevin Pritchard, who was fired last summer.

"I can say to you that anyone who has been here and been in that role before is not being considered," Miller said.

He went on to specifically rule out former GM Kevin Pritchard, former Vice President of Basketball Operations Tom Penn and former executives Mark Warkentien -- now with the New York Knicks -- and John Nash.

While he was at it, Miller also denied rumors that the team made contact with GM candidates or their agents before parting ways with Cho. "It's not true," he said. "We hadn't put any feelers out at all." 

Miller insisted that any talk with potential replacements has been incoming rather than outgoing.

"I’ve gotten a number of calls -- either agents or people who are interested directly -- but we haven’t spent any time reaching out to anybody at this point. Our position still is that we’re in no rush. Right now, our focus is on getting through the draft."

Since announcing Cho's firing, Miller has maintained that the Blazers have "no timetable" for hiring a replacement GM and that it's "possible" the team will enter next season without a new GM in place. Miller repeated that sentiment on Monday, saying that his organization "absolutely" and "unequivocally" plans to enter the NBA Draft, which takes place on June 23, without a full-time GM in place.

Miller remains upbeat heading into the draft process, even without a full-time head of basketball operations in place.

"I’m 100% confident that we’ve got the bases covered that we need to have covered in order to have a good draft," Miller said. "I think we’re in good shape as far as draft preparation is concerned. We’re looking at all the possibilities. Do we stand pat and draft in the positions that we currently have? Do we try to trade to move up? Do we try to make some other trades using our draft picks? I’m confident that on draft day we’ll make the right decision."
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