Blazers executive Neil Olshey dismissed after probe

Sports

FILE – Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey speaks during an NBA basketball news conference on Aug. 8, 2012, in Portland, Ore. The Trail Blazers fired Olshey on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, for violating the the team’s code of conduct. The team hired an outside firm last month to investigate workplace environment concerns. (AP Photo/Nigel Duara, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager, on Friday after an investigation into workplace conduct.

The Blazers promoted director of player personnel Joe Cronin to interim GM.

The team said in a statement that Olshey was dismissed for violating its code of conduct. The Blazers had hired an outside firm last month to investigate workplace environment concerns stemming from allegations of misconduct involving Olshey.

The dismissal is effective immediately.

“Out of respect for 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,” the Blazers said in a statement.

Olshey, 56, had been general manager of the Blazers since 2012. He was promoted to president of basketball operations in 2015.

Olshey came to the Blazers after nine years with the Los Angeles Clippers, which included stints as director of player development, assistant coach, director of player personnel and assistant GM.

The move comes amid significant turnover within the Blazers.

Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan stepped down last month after nine years in the position. Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President Dewayne Hankins took over as the team’s new president of business operations.

Portland parted ways with longtime coach Terry Stotts at the end of last season and hired Chauncey Billups as his replacement. The move came amid questions about how the Blazers selected Billups over more experienced candidates and concerns about sexual assault allegations lodged against him nearly a quarter-century ago.

Billups never faced charges related to those allegations that came out in 1997 and settled out of court with the accuser three years later.

Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star over a 17-year playing career, had never been a head coach before coming to the Blazers. He served as an assistant with the Clippers last season.

Portland is 11-12 so far under Billups. The Blazers are coming off a 114-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night.

Under Olshey, the Trail Blazers have made the NBA playoffs for the past eight seasons, the longest active streak in the league. The team’s best finish came in 2018-19, when Portland went to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2000. But the team hasn’t advanced out of the first round in four of the last five years.

Less than a month after hiring Olshey, the Blazers selected Damian Lillard with the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft and built the franchise around him.

Lillard, a six-time All-Star, won Rookie of the Year honors in his first season. Last season, he averaged 30 points and eight assists.

Portland’s investigation into workplace environment, announced on Nov. 6, was conducted by the law firm O’Melveny & Myers.

“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,” the team said in its statement.

Cronin is in his 15th season with the Blazers. He became director of player personnel in 2014 and manages the team’s salary cap.

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