Posted on: May 23, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 9:40 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver
PORTLAND, Ore – For the second time in less than twelve months, the Portland Trail Blazers have parted ways with a respected general manager. On the night of the 2010 NBA Draft, word surfaced that the team had agreed to part ways with former General Manager Kevin Pritchard. On Monday, the team announced that it was doing the same with his successor – Rich Cho – roughly one month before the 2011 NBA Draft.
Cho, known for his salary cap acumen and analytical approach, made two moves of substance during his tenure, trading away guard Jerryd Bayless and trading for forward Gerald Wallace. He had meticulously planned his draft war room structure for months, turning a conference room into a think tank with flat screen televisions and white boards adorning all the walls.
He never got a chance to use it.
“I think the big issue was chemistry between him and the owner,” Blazers president Larry Miller told CBSSports.com. “They were just never able to click. Rich is a smart guy, a really nice guy, brings some talents to the table but I think if the chemistry isn’t right, it’s hard for it to work.”
Portland’s owner, of course, is billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In his memoir, Idea Man, released a little more than one month ago, Allen writes: “After replacing Kevin Pritchard (who struggled in the managerial parts of his job) with Rich Cho, we believe that we've found a leadership team that can get us back to the Finals."
And, then, Monday’s abrupt news.
“There wasn’t an incident,” Miller maintained. “I think we learned from last year, that sometimes it’s better when you know something, to move sooner than later. If we know this is not going to work, let’s not drag it out. Let’s not put it off, let’s just go ahead and move on it now.”
Cho declined interview requests, but did release a statement through the team's public relations department. "Obviously it's a difficult day, but I want to truly thank Paul Allen and Larry Miller for the opportunity they gave me here in Portland," Cho said. "I also want to thank the fans, players, coaches, business office staff and especially my basketball operations staff who have supported me along the way. I feel good about the work we've done here and I know the Trail Blazers are headed in the right direction."
Asked for Cho's reaction to the news, Miller said simply: "Rich was shocked."
While Cho kept a very low profile in Portland, rarely making public statements, at least two rifts emerged during his tenure. First, an apparent disagreement in how to handle guard Brandon Roy, who made critical comments about his playing time and role both during the season and during the playoffs. Second, a difference in public strategy in terms of handling injured center Greg Oden. While Miller said publicly that the team would likely extend Oden a qualifying offer this summer shortly after he underwent microfracture surgery, Cho remained tight-lipped, not offering a public statement until weeks later.
Miller said Monday that neither issue figured into the decision to part ways with Cho.
“I don’t know whether there were philosophical issues,” Miller said. “The whole deal about Brandon … that really didn’t play into this decision. That was something that was talked about with Rich about how we should handle that around Brandon. We kind of agreed that the best thing was for Rich to talk to him and let him know if something happened again, there would be a suspension. That was the extent of that. It wasn’t like there was any issue around that.”
As for Oden’s future, Miller said the management team was and is in lockstep. “I think we were on the same page, although I may have expressed it one way and Rich may have expressed it another way. From an organization perspective we were on the same page. If Greg does the things that we need him to do or that we expect him to do, then we are going to issue a qualifying offer to him. Rich may have just said the same thing differently than the way I said it. The reality is, even up to Mr. Allen, we’re on the same page.”
That timing of the firing and the quickness with which it came left many Blazers fans scratching their heads and others outraged at organizational incompetence. Indeed, Miller’s explanation about a chemistry rift is a 180 degree turn from previous statements. The team had publicly vouched for Cho’s ability to hit it off with Allen during his job interview and officials had regularly spoken about the new management group’s relationship together.
Miller acknowledged those concerns but chalked it up to a casualty of doing business. “I can understand how fans and people would say, ‘But you guys said this was the right guy.’ The reality is we thought this was the right guy or we wouldn’t have hired him. The fit is just not right. I’ve seen this in other business situations where I’ve worked before. You’ve hired someone at a senior level and you think that the skillset and they’re smart people, they have all the right tools to come in and do a job. Then, you hire them at some point into it you realize that they’re not the right person for that job. The difference is that this is a public situation but to me it’s not unusual. This does happen from time to time.”
The Blazers have no timetable for replacing Cho, and Miller noted that it’s “possible” the team enters training camp in the fall without naming a full-time replacement. In the meantime, the team’s Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan will serve as Interim GM. “I think we feel comfortable with Chad and the rest of the team out there as far as going into the draft is concerned.”
Buchanan, who has worked for the Blazers for seven years, leap-frogs over Cho’s two hand-picked assistant GMs: Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry. Miller says both men will remain with the team and are still under contract.
“Chad has been around here,” Miller said. “Even though their titles were different, their responsibilities were not that different. They all reported into Rich at the same level. The reporting structure was the same, it was just a difference in title. I wouldn’t say he’s jumping over them.”
Still, the situation is as bad as it looks. A team beset by injuries on the court and drama off of it.
Miller defended his owner from charges of irascibility. “Mr. Allen is determined to get this right. He’s determined to try to build a championship team here. Determined to make sure this team is going to be the best it can possibly be.”
Miller also brushed aside the notion that he’s serving as the de facto GM. “I do have some things I can bring to the table to help with some of those decision but the decisions are going to be driven by the basketball operations staff. I’ll be there to help and assist those guys in any way that I can.”
Whether or not Miller is correct that the team learned from its mistakes, it’s clear the organization’s leadership doesn’t want to be here again.
“We’re going to make sure we take our time and do it right this time,” Miller said.” I don’t want to go through another summer like this.”
Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Posted on: March 18, 2011 7:27 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:43 pm
The owners of the Sacramento Kings have issued a statement of support for GM Geoff Petrie amid rumors that they are looking to make a change. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The vultures are circling in Sacramento, as continuing reports that the Kings and its owners, the Maloof family, are looking to relocate to Anaheim have prompted rumors that the organization might be looking for a new management team as well as a new market.
On Friday, ESPN.com reported that former Portland Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard was under consideration for Sacramento's GM position, which is currently held by Geoff Petrie.
Sources close to the situation say that Kings co-owners Gavin and Joe Maloof, after years of patience, are giving strong consideration to starting all the way over should the team complete its increasingly anticipated relocation to Anaheim … which would mean a change in the front office, as well, before deciding whether to retain or oust Westphal.
The Maloofs, sources say, are fans of former Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and increasingly considering him as a potential hire for the looming new era in Orange County as the Anaheim Royals.Within hours of that report, the Kings issued a release to the media that backed Petrie.
“There is absolutely no truth that we are considering anyone else for our General Manager position. We consider Geoff Petrie to be the best in the business and look forward to continuing our resurgence with him at the helm.”If this song and dance sounds and looks familiar, that's because virtually the same thing happened back in December, when CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported that the Maloofs might be ready to move on from Petrie and coach Paul Westphal.
Writing on Friday, Berger notes that a move to Anaheim "would be only one of many factors making the time right for an organizational housecleaning."
You know the old saying: owners support GMs right up until the second they decide to fire them, so take the Maloofs' statement with a grain of salt. They're doing Petrie, a long-time employee, a solid by protecting him from a one-sided account, but that doesn't mean they should stick with him blindly this summer, especially if they do go through with plans to relocate.
If only the Maloofs showed as much respect and consideration to their fanbase.
Anyway, the Kings have been spinning their wheels in the league's basement for years. An executive like Pritchard, who has experience building an organization from the ground up and winning back a lost fanbase in Portland, would seem an ideal fit for a move to a new market. Pritchard developed a reputation as a bit of a salesman in Portland, and while that might not work a lot of places, trying to pitch the "Anaheim Royals" to a sports-soaked market like Southern California is going to take an executive with the right mindset and communication skills.
Once the ink dries on their press release, the Maloofs should give some thought to the idea of Pritchard, or a young executive like him. Assuming they haven't already, of course.
Posted on: January 30, 2011 9:32 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2011 11:03 pm
The New York Knicks will reportedly hire former Denver Nuggets executive Mark Warkentien. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Here's some news that figures to kick up another solid round of Carmelo Anthony trade rumors: the New York Knicks are reportedly set to hire former Denver Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien as a consultant to president Donnie Walsh, according to Yahoo! Sports.
In a move that undoubtedly has roots in the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh has reached an agreement with former Denver Nuggets general manager Mark Warkentien to join the Knicks as a high-level consultant, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday.
The hiring of Warkentien is expected to be a prelude to a larger and more specific front-office role in the future, but that’s still an issue to be worked out. As the Knicks work to acquire Anthony through a trade this season or in free agency this summer, there’s no minimizing Warkentien’s institutional knowledge of the Nuggets organization and ownership, as well as a strong relationship with Anthony.Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms the Yahoo! report and further explores the hiring's implications on the Anthony trade talks.
The New York Daily News reports Anthony's reaction to the news: "As far as I'm concerned that's a great addition to their organization."
Warkentien is perhaps best known for landing point guard Chauncey Billups in a blockbuster 2008 trade for Allen Iverson. He has also established a reputation as a negotiations expert, having studied the art of deal-making extensively at Harvard.
Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke is said to be a demanding man to work for, as he runs the Nuggets by focusing on payroll management and profit maximization to a degree many owners do not. Pitching a deal with the scope and magnitude of a Carmelo Anthony trade takes a keen sense for what motivates an owner, and Warkentien's direct knowledge of those motivations would absolutely be an asset that could pay immediate dividends for the Knicks.
Still, this move feels like more than just "Melo-or-bust" for New York. Warkentien was named NBA Executive of the Year for 2008-2009 and was one of the biggest available names among the group of former NBA GMs, alongside Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry and Steve Kerr. Warkentien brings roughly 20 years of NBA experience to the table -- including a long record of scouting -- and the network of relationships that go along with that experience.
During the four seasons that Warkentien headed up the Nuggets, Denver won 45, 50, 54 and 53 games. So whether or not Warkentien helps the Knicks land Anthony prior to the trade deadline, his hiring represents another sign that the Knicks franchise, a team on the rise, is looking for people to help transform it into a true title contender.
Posted on: January 21, 2011 11:57 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 12:12 am
Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien and GM David Morway are reportedly in hot water when their contracts are up this season. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The Indiana Pacers got off to a promising start this year, but it's been back to mediocre over the last month or so, as the team has fallen to 16-23, well below .500.
ESPN.com reports that another losing season could be the last for Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien and GM David Morway.
Indiana Pacers brass is not pleased with the performance of head coach Jim O'Brien, according to several league sources.
That said, O'Brien, who is in the last year of his contract, is likely to remain as coach the rest of the season. Part of the reason is that no one on O'Brien's staff -- Dan Burke, Frank Vogel, Jay DeFruscio, Vitaly Potapenko Walter McCarty -- is viewed as a suitable replacement.On Thursday, the Indianapolis Star noted that Pritchard, who is not currently employed in any capacity by the team, was travelling with Pacers president Larry Bird on the team's road trip.
Pacers president Larry Bird invited Pritchard, who was fired by Portland about an hour before last summer's NBA draft, on the trip. Their friendship goes back to when the two were teammates with the Boston Celtics during the 1991-92 season. Bird likes to pick the brains of people who have held front office positions. Golden State's former executive of basketball operations, Chris Mullin, also a former Pacers player, might hang around the team later in the season.
"There's a lot of guys around the league I talk to," Bird said. "I've always done that."Bird, the paper also noted recently, is in the final year of his contract as well, and hasn't yet reached a decision about whether or not he'll be back.
The Pacers didn't have a great offseason, drafting as-yet-unproductive forward Paul George and guard Lance Stephenson, who immediately made national headlines after getting involved in a domestic violence incident and was asked to remain away from the team. Indiana did net promising young point guard Darren Collison in a trade that dumped Troy Murphy to New Jersey, but it hasn't been enough to turn them into a solid playoff team.
Earlier this month, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger outlined the uphill battle the Pacers were facing as a small-market team attempting to compete against the league's deep-pocketed, big-market teams.
A Moneyball-style GM like Pritchard would make a ton of sense in Indiana, as his understanding of advanced statistics, analytics and cap management is generally seen as the surest way for a small-market team to get the maximum bang for their buck and narrow the gap between the LA's and New York's of the world. Pritchard's name will likely generate a lot of interest this summer, as he and TNT commentator Steve Kerr are the two biggest names among former GMs that are not currently employed in that capacity.
Posted on: August 4, 2010 1:17 pm
Posted by Royce Young
One thing can be certain about whoever is hired as Mark Warkentien's replacement in Denver: Carmelo Anthony better like him.
Anthony is reportedly planning on testing free agency waters next summer and will leave a three-year extension on the table. So while Denver looks for a new general manager, whoever that person is, has a tall task in front of him.
Right now, one name has popped up in two places. Both Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! mentioned Masai Ujiri of the Raptors, who has ties with the Nuggets from a few years ago. Smith says, "there is legitimate interest both ways" and feels like Ujiri is almost assured at least an interview.
Another name is Wizards' executive Tommy Sheppard, also a former employee of the Nuggets. As Spears says, Nugget owner Stan Kroenke loves both Ujiri and Sheppard. Finally, Spears also mentioned former Suns GM David Griffin and described him as a "strong candidate."
Of course there are still guys like Kevin Pritchard and Danny Ferry on the market who are proven and well respected GMs. But it appears, at least in the early going, that Denver is interested in someone formerly connected to the franchise.
Whoever gets the job has a strong centerpiece for next season. But the real job is convincing 'Melo to stay and then finding the pieces to satisfy him if he does. Evidently Warkentien, one of the best GMs in the league, didn't fit in well with Kroenke and the organization. So maybe the job is a tall task altogther and not just because of 'Melo's extension.
Posted on: July 19, 2010 1:22 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2010 1:30 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Rich Cho will be the next general manager of the Trail Blazers, The Oregonian reports .
The Oklahoma City Thunder assistant general manager interviewed with the team last week in Las Vegas and will be named today. Cho has built a reputation as a young and bright executive who has degrees in engineering and law.
Cho replaces Kevin Pritchard, who was fired on June 24. Cho will step into a great situation roster-wise in Portland with a star already there in Brandon Roy, a great coach and a number of quality supporting cast players. But besides managing questions about Greg Oden's health and keeping one of the best and most passionate fanbases in sports happy, Cho also has to deal with an ownership group that has been characterized as "meddling". So that should be fun for him.
Cho was known as the Thunder's cap expert and has been with the Thunder franchise for 11 seasons and served eight as assistant GM. He was responsible for contract negotiations, salary cap and Collective Bargaining Agreement matters, player contracts and all player personnel issues.
Cho is a native of the Pacific Northwest and a member of the Washington State Bar, a graduate of Pepperdine Law School and achieved his undergraduate at Washington State University.
Posted on: July 13, 2010 6:55 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2010 7:08 pm
Posted by Royce Young
New Orleans GM Jeff Bower has been released by the Hornets, the team announced Tuesday afternoon . The team said Bower and the Hornets "mutually" parted ways.
Multiple others have put out more details with Adrian Wojnarowski mentioning that the team made the decision 7-10 days ago , but have waited on announcing it because the Hornets have used that time ot identify replacements. As far as early leading contenders, obviously Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GMs Troy Weaver and Rich Cho will likely be in the discussion.
But Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman mentions one other candidate. George Shinn's son Chad.
"Chad Shinn, son of owner George, also has been grooming 4 a prominent pos. in the org," Mayberry tweeted . "Chad loves the basketball side & would love GM title. "
So what brought this on? Early indications are that Bower's willingness to shop franchise player Chris Paul caused tension between Bower and George Shinn.
The Hornets have been a franchise in an odd state of transition for the past few years. First, Katrina made them homeless until Oklahoma City temporarily housed them. Then they got really good and made a serious run in the postseason. Then Bower spent a lot of money on guys like James Posey and Peja Stojakovic and NOLA found themselves in some financial distress. Then they fired former Coach of the Year Byron Scott, Bower appointed himself coach and the team missed the playoffs. Which catches us up to today, where Bower is let go.
New Orleans is surely an intriguing place for a high-profile candidate like Pritchard, assuming the Hornets pay up. Any time Chris Paul is already in place as the cornerstone, the job of rebuilding gets a lot easier and more attractive. Just don't try and trade him I guess.