The Trail Blazers have been going through tough times both on and off the court, but coach Chauncey Billups insists the investigation into – and subsequent firing of – general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey hasn’t been a distraction, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Speaking to reporters before Saturday’s game, Billups said he and the players have been focusing on their own jobs rather than what’s happening with management.
“I kind of just stick to the task at hand,” he said. “I’ve got a locker room in there of guys that I had to try to lead, do the best job that I can and keep them focused on the task as well. … I don’t think the situation with Neil was a distraction at all. Not even a little bit. Obviously, I’ve got my finger on it. Never hear guys talking about it. Discussing it. I don’t think it was a distraction. No.”
Since Billups was hired in June, Portland has replaced franchise president and CEO Chris McGowan and is now in the market for a new GM. Billups admitted the upheaval can be challenging, even though the move with Olshey was expected.
“Naturally, with the investigation going on, people were kind of anticipating what might happen,” he said. “But it finally came down. It’s tough because I just felt like this organization is going through so much change.”
There’s more from Portland:
- Billups has interviewed for front office positions in the past, but he has no interest in taking on GM duties as well as coaching, tweets Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. “I’m just trying to figure this one job out,” he said. “I’ve got enough on my plate. I’m going to stick to this one job.”
- Participating in a Reddit AMA session Friday, Damian Lillard said he never had any issues with Olshey, relays Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports. “I have a lot of thoughts, but ya know, in short, I always had a really good relationship with Neil,” Lillard said in response to a question. “He drafted me and gave me the opportunity to have the career that I’ve had. Ya know, it’s been a great run, and it’s just an all-around unfortunate situation in the business that we work in.”
- In a separate piece, Fentress examines five potential general manager candidates. In addition to interim GM Joe Cronin, Fentress looks at the qualifications and fit for Grizzlies executive Tayshaun Prince, Bulls GM Mark Eversley, Knicks GM Scott Perry and former Celtics executive Danny Ainge.
- Prince is expected to receive support from Billups, his long-time teammate with the Pistons, according to Marc Stein of Substack. It’s also believed that Billups will have more influence in the organization now that Olshey is gone, Stein adds.
- CJ McCollum will undergo further evaluation today after suffering bruised ribs, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Initial X-rays on McCollum were negative.