Chris McGowan

Blazers Notes: Olshey, Billups, McGowan

Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is scheduled to be interviewed next week by investigators from law firm O’Melveny and Myers, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Quick notes that the firm has already interviewed over 60 people as part of its investigation into Olshey and Portland’s front office.

As we previously relayed, the investigation will take longer than expected. A deadline of November 5 was originally set, but that date has since been pushed back.

Olshey is under investigation after numerous employees complained about a hostile work environment. The longtime executive is fighting for his job and has no interest in making a deal or buyout settlement, Quick notes in a separate tweet.

There’s more out of Portland tonight:

  • Speaking of Olshey, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian reports that several employees have experienced or seen him ‘”berate, belittle and intimidate” staffers. “You tried to not be around him,” said one of Fentress’ sources, explaining how employees actively tried to avoid Olshey at the team’s practice facility.
  • In an article for The Athletic, Jason Quick examines the factors that led to Chris McGowan resigning as president and CEO. McGowan, who recently stepped down Portland after spending nearly a decade in the position, said there were “a lot of things” that factored into his decision. One, according to Quick, was that he wanted to become the “voice of the franchise” – overseeing the team’s messaging, not its basketball decisions – but was rebuffed by team owner Jody Allen.
  • Head coach Chauncey Billups recently described the team as “under construction,” Quick writes in a separate article for The Athletic. Aside from some off-court issues, Portland’s on-court product doesn’t look much better. The team is 6-7 through 13 games, though it’s worth noting that Damian Lillard is averaging just 20 points per game (38% shooting from the field and 27% from downtown).

Chris McGowan Resigning From Role As Blazers’ President

Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan has informed the team that he’s resigning from his position, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). McGowan is also the CEO of Vulcan Sports & Entertainment, the group that oversees business operations for the Blazers and the Allen family’s other sports franchises.

A longtime sports business executive, McGowan had been in his role with the Blazers since October 2012. He’ll be replaced by Dewayne Hankins, who will be promoted to the position of president, tweets Haynes. Hankins had been the team’s chief commercial officer and executive vice president.

The Blazers have issued a press release confirming the change in upper management.

“Since joining the Trail Blazers in 2013, Dewayne has been crucial to our success and growth,” team owner Jody Allen said in a statement. “Now in his ninth season with us, we’re thrilled to have him lead the organization.”

McGowan’s resignation comes shortly after word broke that the Blazers had launched an independent investigation into the workplace conduct of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. While the timing suggests that the two developments may be related, there has been no confirmation of that.

According to Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link), McGowan was in the final year of his contract, which had been set to expire next June. McGowan told John Canzano of The Oregonian (Twitter link) he “felt like this was the time for me to make a change,” adding that he intends to pursue other opportunities.

“We are grateful for Chris’s contributions since joining the Trail Blazers nearly a decade ago,” Allen said within today’s announcement. “I appreciate his dedication to the organization and to our fans, and we wish him well in his next chapter.”