Late last week it looked as if the Los Angeles Clippers had come to terms on a new deal that would keep their Vice President Of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey in place for the next few years. Unfortunately for the Clippers, the franchise and the architect of the team that won only their second NBA Playoff series last month, since moving to Los Angeles were unable to reach an agreement. Olshey would not be on the open market for long; as the “Oregonian” reported Tuesday, that the Portland Trail Blazers introduced the former Clippers executive as their new General Manager at a press conference at the Rose Garden, late Tuesday afternoon.
The Blazers have been without a permanent General Manager since Team Owner fired Rich Cho last spring, after less than a year in the position. He replaces Chad Buchanan, who has filled the position on an interim basis and will remain with the team. Olshey originally interviewed for his new job last August, however Portland decided to hold off on filling the spot until after they completed this past campaign.
The man who brought Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler to Los Angeles, after the NBA Lockout ended, has high hopes that the Blazers can soon be among the elite teams in the Association’s Western Conference. He told reporters “I want to set this thing up in the next couple years where we can have a five to seven-year run with just having to tweak the roster here and there and always be a factor for a Western Conference championship. That’s my vision.
The Blazers decimated by injuries over the last few seasons, did not make the Post Season this year, as Brandon Roy retired and the team released former number one pick in the NBA Draft Greg Oden, with his NBA career in limbo. Still, Olshey believes that the team already possesses two core players, in LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. He said “As far as I’m concerned, LaMarcus is a cornerstone of the franchise. In my mind, he and Nic Batum are what Chris Paul and Blake were to the Clippers, what we were trying to build there. Once you have those two pieces, that bedrock, in place, now you start working out tangentially and adding guys that complement those players.”
The new Blazers General Manager had been in his former position since March of 2010 and during that time he helped the Clippers finally escape the Association’s basement, after being trapped down there for what seemed like eons to the team’s fan-base. He dealt with Donald Sterling, one of the most controversial Team Owners in the NBA while in Los Angeles and he will be working for an Owner in Allen, who is reportedly hard to get along with.
His first two priorities in his new post will be determining the direction the team will take in the upcoming NBA Draft, as well as hiring a permanent head coach to replace Nate McMillan, dismissed during the season. Olshey told members of the media that interim coach Kaleb Canales, is a strong candidate to get the job.