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Neil Olshey and Clippers part ways; headed for Portland?

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Neil Olshey will be the new GM of the Portland Trail Blazers. (Getty Images)
The Clippers retained their rising star of a general manager Neil Olshey, a big positive step in the right direction for a much maligned organization.

Until they didn't.

The Clippers announced late Monday that Olshey and the team agreed to part ways. Via a team release:
The Los Angeles Clippers and Neil Olshey today mutually agreed to end discussions concerning Olshey's future with the team. An agreement in principle, reached and announced on June 1, will not be completed and the two parties have agreed to part ways.

"Circumstances have obviously undergone some movement since our announcement Friday. In light of that, we want to wish Neil well and acknowledge his contributions during the time he spent with the Clippers," said Clippers' President Andy Roeser.

A search for a replacement is already underway, headed up by Roeser. In the interim, all responsibilities pertaining to the team's basketball operations will be absorbed by Roeser, Head Coach Vinny Del Negro, and Clippers' Director of Player Personnel Gary Sacks.

You're already thinking it, but I'm going to go ahead and say it: Clippers being Clippers. They re-sign Vinny Del Negro but somehow let the architect that built the franchise into a contender slip away.

The Blazers announced shortly after that Olshey will be taking the Portland Trail Blazers GM position.
The Portland Trail Blazers have named Neil Olshey as the team's general manager, Team President Larry Miller announced today. Per team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

"Neil is someone we've had on our radar for quite a while," said Miller. "Over the past two seasons he has demonstrated success in constructing a roster, managing salary cap and evaluating player talent. We feel very fortunate to have him in Portland and are thrilled about what this means for the future."
The past two Portland GMs were fired (Kevin Pritchard and Rich Cho), with Cho lasting only a season. This past season, Chad Buchanan has served as an interim GM.

Olshey engineered the biggest deal in Clippers history, trading for Chris Paul while sending out a pick, Eric Gordon, and Al-Farouq Aminu. The Clippers went from one of the league's laughing-stock franchises to a playoff contender with the snap of a finger.

Presumably, this breakdown is thought to be about money. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is notoriously conscious with his spending, and the Blazers are desperate in landing a high quality GM. More than likely Paul Allen and the Blazers hit Olshey with a big offer that Sterling didn't want to match. That's speculation, but given past history, it obviously makes sense.

Olshey represented a new brand of the Clippers franchise, a rebuilt no-joke-about-it group committed to success. But with him gone and the team facing major roster decisions very soon with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Olshey's departure may not bode well in retaining those stars. Again, Olshey seemed to be the captain of a new era of Clippers basketball.

And now, he's heading to Portland. Some things never change.
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