The Portland Trail Blazers have parted ways with president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey, following an investigation by the franchise into Olshey's workplace behavior. Team employees alleged that Olshey created a toxic, hostile work environment rife with intimidation tactics and profanity-laced tirades, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The alleged mistreatment reportedly dates back nearly a decade and has led to mental and physical stress for employees of the team.
The Blazers released the following statement:
The Portland Trail Blazers are committed to building an organization that positively impacts our colleagues, communities and the world in which we live and play.
Following the conclusion of the independent review of concerns and complaints around our workplace environment at the practice facility, the Portland Trail Blazers organization has decided to terminate General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, effective immediately due to violations of the Portland Trail Blazers' Code of Conduct. Out of respect to those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it. We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment. Joe Cronin has been promoted to interim General Manager while the organization's leadership conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
The change follows the resignation of former Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan, after which Dewayne Hankins was promoted to president of business operations.
Olshey, 56, had been the franchise's top basketball personnel decision-maker since he was hired in 2012, following a lengthy stint with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he held multiple positions before being named general manager.
After failing to reach the postseason in Olshey's first season at the helm, Portland has made the playoffs in eight straight seasons, including a Western Conference finals appearance in 2019. After losing to the Denver Nuggets in the first round last postseason, the Blazers fired longtime coach Terry Stotts, eventually replacing him with Chauncey Billups. Olshey drew criticism for the team's roster construction, but he insisted that the first-round loss and poor defense were "not a product of the roster."
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Entering Friday night, the Blazers held an 11-12 record, good for ninth in the Western Conference. The organization has dealt with reports dating back to the summer of discontent from All-NBA point guard Damian Lillard, who has also gotten off to a subpar start to the season. Despite rumors of a potential trade demand, Lillard recently stated that he is "not leaving Portland" and that he is not going to "jump ship and bail out" when adversity strikes.
Portland will now deal with the fallout from Olshey's firing and search for a replacement, while the team attempts to rise in the Western Conference standings.