Neil Olshey

Blazers Notes: Hood, Kanter, McCollum, Aldridge

Shooting guard Rodney Hood surprised the Trail Blazers by accepting the $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports.

Portland was hoping to bring back center Enes Kanter at that number, but he balked. Blazers GM Neil Olshey thought Hood wanted more in free agency but was pleasantly surprised by Hood’s decision.

Olshey then shifted gears to finding a starting-quality center and got involved in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade to Miami, winding up with Hassan Whiteside by dealing Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • Backcourt partners CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard are now locked up long-term after McCollum signed a three-year, $100MM extension and they’re excited about that prospect, as he told Quick in a separate story. “It’s a special time,” McCollum said. “(Lillard and I) talked about being in Portland, making a staple here and winning a championship here, and all those things. We’ve crossed off a lot of goals individually and collectively, but I think that both of us being here for the long haul, and both of us being able to grow together and win together is something that people will remember for a long time.”
  • Pau Gasol, who recently signed with the Blazers, said former Spurs teammate LaMarcus Aldridge has spoken highly of Portland and may want to play there again, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Aldridge said last season he and Lillard had spoken about the prospect of becoming teammates again. Aldridge’s $24MM contract for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed, so it’s conceivable that could occur as soon as next summer.
  • If you missed the details on McCollum’s extension, you can find it all here.

Heat Acquire Jimmy Butler In Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired Jimmy Butler from the Sixers in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers and the Clippers, according to press releases from Miami and Philadelphia.

The Heat also acquired big man Meyers Leonard from the Trail Blazers and cash considerations from the Clippers. Miami sent shooting guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers. The Clippers also received forward Maurice Harkless from Portland and the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort from the Sixers.

The Clippers and Blazers have also confirmed the swap.

The 2023 first-rounder that the Heat forwarded to the Clippers, which is lottery-protected through 2025 and unprotected in 2026, was subsequently moved to the Thunder as part of the agreed-upon Paul George blockbuster.

Butler inked a four-year, $141MM contract with the Heat. Miami waived forward Ryan Anderson and stretched his contract in order to stay below the hard cap and complete the sign-and-trade.

“Jimmy’s leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately,” Miami president Pat Riley said in the press release. “Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move. Meyers is a versatile big, a great shooter, can play inside and block shots. The addition of both men puts us in a great position to win.”

The disgruntled Butler was dealt by Minnesota to Philadelphia last season. The Sixers wanted to retain Butler but couldn’t convince him to stay and got something for him via the sign-and-trade mechanism. In 65 total games for the Wolves and Sixers last season, Butler averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG with a .462/.347/.855 shooting line. Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 PPG and 4.1 APG last season.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the acquisition of Whiteside an “impact move for our roster.” The Blazers were looking for a starting center with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend from a serious leg injury.

Trail Blazers Sign Neil Olshey To Extension

1:46pm: Olshey has officially signed his extension, the Blazers announced today in a press release.

“Neil has done an exceptional job finding and keeping the talent that has made the Trail Blazers a perennial playoff team, culminating in this season’s magical run to the Western Conference Finals,” owner Jody Allen said in a statement. “I have great confidence in the culture he has created in Portland, and I look forward to seeing it thrive and grow for years to come.”

12:27pm: The Trail Blazers have agreed to a contract extension with president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the new deal will keep Olshey under contract through 2024.

The news comes on the heels of a report that Olshey was receiving some interest from the Wizards for their own head of basketball operations position. That report indicated that Olshey was locked up through 2021 and may be open to other opportunities. However, with a new deal in hand, the veteran executive is now set to remain in Portland for the next several years.

Olshey, who previously worked in the Clippers’ front office, serving as the club’s general manager for two years, took over as the Trail Blazers’ head of basketball operations in June of 2012. His first move with the club saw him use the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 draft on Damian Lillard, who has since become the Blazers’ franchise player.

While Portland had a 33-49 record in Olshey’s first year in the front office, the team has been one of the Western Conference’s most successful organizations since then, making six consecutive playoff appearances and averaging nearly 49 wins per season since the start of the 2013/14 campaign. The Blazers won four playoff series during that stretch, making the Western Conference Finals this spring for the first time since 2000.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts agreed to an extension with the club earlier this week.

Latest On Wizards’ GM Search

It has now been a week since Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly met with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis at Leonsis’ residence to discuss Washington’s top basketball operations position. As Candace Buckner of The Washington Post details, the Wizards didn’t make Connelly a job offer at that meeting, but did so two days later. Connelly passed, opting to remain in Denver and sending the Wizards’ search back to square one.

Since then, there have been no concrete updates on Washington’s search for Ernie Grunfeld‘s replacement, prompting Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post to write that the clock is ticking on the team’s “driftless” search.

David Aldridge of The Athletic makes a similar point, suggesting that the Wizards’ lack of action on Troy Weaver, Danny Ferry, and Tommy Sheppard – all of whom have interviewed twice for the job – signals that the club isn’t in love with any of those candidates. Still, with big offseason decisions looming, including one on Bradley Beal‘s future, it’s time for Leonsis to be decisive and either choose one of the Wizards’ existing candidates or go after a new one, Aldridge contends.

If the Wizards do add a new name or two to their list of potential targets, who might those new candidates to be? Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington observes that Warriors assistant GM Larry Harris and Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, whose teams are still alive in the playoffs, could be on the Wizards’ radar.

Harris interviewed for the Pelicans’ top front office job before David Griffin landed it, and the outside consultant who worked with New Orleans, Mike Forde, has also assisted the Wizards in their search, so he could recommend Harris to Washington too, Standig notes. As for Ujiri, while the Wizards were rumored to have interest, a source tells Standig that expectations of high salary demands have thus far discouraged Washington from seriously pursuing that possibility.

Standig identifies one more potential target for the Wizards, writing that multiple sources have said the team has interest in Trail Blazers head of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Washington’s interest in Olshey dates back several weeks, but as of Wednesday the club had yet to ask Portland permission to talk to him, according to Standig.

While Olshey is under contract for two more years, sources believe he’d be open to considering other options, per Standig. Damian Lillard‘s super-max eligibility and Portland’s uncertain ownership situation could be factors working in the Wizards’ favor if they do make a run at Olshey.

[UPDATE: Olshey signs extension with Trail Blazers]

Blazers Notes: Lillard, Stotts, Offseason

Earlier today, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that the Trail Blazers are expected to sign Damian Lillard to a super-max extension that would lock him up for four additional seasons beyond the end of his current contract.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst covered the same subject in his own article this morning, pointing out that the uncertain ownership situation in Portland is a potential wild card for Lillard and the Blazers. However, even though the star point guard would remain eligible to sign a super-max extension in 2020, he’s “at ease” with the ownership situation and is open to signing that new deal this offseason, sources tell Windhorst.

While Trail Blazers ownership – headed by Jody Allen, the sister of late owner Paul Allen – appears set to commit big money to Lillard, it’s unclear whether the team will continue to authorize future luxury-tax spending, Windhorst writes. For now, those in the organization have been informed that no short-term changes to spending are anticipated.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • Terry Stotts‘ contract situation will be worth watching closely this offseason, as 2019/20 is the final year of his current deal. Sources tell Chris Haynes that Stotts wasn’t pleased about not being extended a year ago, so the team will likely have to put an extension on the table now in order to get him back for next season. Head of basketball operations Neil Olshey, who has two years left on his contract, may have earned an extension as well, Windhorst writes.
  • In his preview of the Trail Blazers’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) explains why it will be tricky for the team to retain role players like Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter, and Seth Curry, and points out that CJ McCollum will be extension-eligible too.
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News previews Portland’s upcoming summer as well, exploring whether the club can find a way to take another leap forward in 2019/20.
  • Jason Quick of The Athletic rounded up some post-game reactions from Blazers players on Monday, and took a look back at what was a memorable 2018/19 season for the franchise. “In the past few years, I’ve been much more like … hurt,” Lillard said, following Portland’s elimination. “Right now, a lot of the things that happened … like, I know how we lost. And not dominating how I would have liked to is disappointing. But to be where we are now — one of the final four teams — it doesn’t hurt as bad.”

Blazers Players Discuss Team’s Deadline Outlook

The Trail Blazers figure to be among the teams looking for some extra help at the trade deadline this season, but Damian Lillard hopes that the club will only make a move if it’s clear upgrade — otherwise, he may not want to risk upsetting Portland’s chemistry, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“When you look around the league, you just see the talent. Teams are stacking up on talent,” Lillard said. “You see a lot of guys teaming up and guys wanting to be on the same team. When you want to compete with that — like on a championship level — you gotta try to fight that with firepower. For us, I think our chemistry, our style of play, and the coaching we have — that’s a big thing for us. So like, we lean on that. We’ve been successful with it. But when you talk about a championship level, it’s tough to compete with those ultra-talented teams — Golden State, Oklahoma City, teams that just have player after player after player.

“If we go away from (team chemistry and continuity), it has to be for certain that we are able to match (the West’s top teams) talent-wise,” Lillard added. “I’m not saying ‘Do it’ if we can get that, I’m just saying if we are ever going to sacrifice (chemistry), it would have to come with us being able to match a team with talent.”

As Quick relays, Lillard repeatedly cautioned that he wasn’t telling team president of basketball operations Neil Olshey what he should or shouldn’t do with the roster at the deadline. “It’s a hard job,” the star point guard said of Olshey’s position. “And that’s why I’m glad it’s not mine.”

Still, Lillard’s stance is an interesting one. Many players around the league would encourage their general managers to make whatever moves they believe will get their respective teams closer to a championship. Lillard, on the other hand, told Quick that he doesn’t want to be so focused on winning a title that he sacrifices teammates to get there.

“At the end of the day, I know in my heart I want to win. I want to win a championship for this city, but I’m not willing to put somebody under the bus to do it,” Lillard said. “That means more to me than saying ‘I won a championship, but now this guy has been traded to a bad situation, and now his team don’t like him as much and he might be out of the league in a year.’ I’m not going to have that. I’m not going to have that on me.”

Here’s more from Blazers players on the team’s trade deadline outlook, via Quick:

  • Lillard explained further why he doesn’t want to get too involved in telling Olshey and the front office what they should do at the deadline: “I’ve never been somebody to go out there and be like, ‘We need to do this, or we need to do that,’ because people’s lives are involved, and I don’t deal with that.”
  • When discussing the West’s top teams, Lillard also observed that it’s “hard to get that much talent to come to Portland,” acknowledging that the Blazers will be at a disadvantage against bigger-market teams when competing for top free agents.
  • Like Lillard, Evan Turner doesn’t envy the position Olshey is in: “It seems like we are up and down of where we want to go. You look at one half of the roster and it looks like a rebuild, and the other half is try-to-win, and see how far we can push it. So whatever (Olshey) does, I’m sure he will do what’s best for the organization. Hopefully, if he does deal, it’s a deal you can’t say no to, as opposed to a flip of a coin whether it’s going to work or not.”
  • While the Blazers are very unlikely to move C.J. McCollum, the standout guard acknowledged that he’s become accustomed to seeing his name pop up in trade rumors and speculation: “What’s his name … Bill Simmons has been trying to get me traded for like five years. There’s a proposed trade for me three times a year by him. I admire the fact that he thinks I’m worthy of being traded to … 12 teams.”

Trail Blazers Rumors: Stotts, Lillard, Collins

After their 2017/18 season ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pelicans in the first round of the postseason, the Trail Blazers came close to firing head coach Terry Stotts, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Portland was close enough to making a move that teams like the Suns begin reaching out to intermediaries to gauge Stotts’ potential interest in their own coaching openings.

However, while ownership seriously considered a change, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and star point guard Damian Lillard fought for Stotts, according to Lowe.

“I was asked what I thought, and I just said I love him as a coach,” Lillard said of Stotts. “We all love him.”

Lowe’s piece takes a deep dive into the Trail Blazers’ culture, as he notes that Lillard and C.J. McCollum “tolerate no squabbling, or blame games.” That attitude permeates the organization from top to bottom, according to Lowe, who points to the relationship between Olshey and Stotts as another example.

Although the two team leaders haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on everything, they’ve developed an understanding that Olshey will avoid players who don’t fit Stotts’ style and Stotts will coach the players he gets. As a result of their relationship, Lowe explains, players will never see Olshey and Stotts at odds in any serious way, as the organization emphasizes a drama-free and resentment-free culture.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Blazers:

  • The Blazers’ late owner Paul Allen, who passed away last month, addressed the team in the wake of its first-round exit, calling the four-game sweep “unacceptable,” sources tell Lowe. Based on the language and the tone, people within the organization were nervous that a major shakeup was coming during the offseason.
  • Allen was ultimately convinced to give everyone – including Stotts and the Blazers’ core – one more season, while team management and coaches vowed to make changes heading into 2018/19. Namely, as Lowe details, Portland wanted to surround Evan Turner with more shooting on the second unit, re-shuffle the rotation to get Lillard and McCollum more playing time together, and get off to a faster start this season. So far, that plan is going well.
  • The Blazers still want to find a way to supplement their Lillard/McCollum duo with a third impact player, sources around the NBA tell Lowe. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic have emerged as perhaps Portland’s most valuable trade chips, but the club doesn’t want to trade Collins and “almost certainly won’t” anytime soon, Lowe reports.
  • Lowe identifies Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris as the type of player who would appeal to the Blazers, though acquiring either of those guys in a trade or as a free agent would be an extreme long shot. Forwards like Otto Porter of the Wizards and Taurean Prince of the Hawks may be more realistic trade targets, Lowe notes.
  • Lillard still believes the Blazers are capable of reaching greater heights during his tenure with the team. “Good things come to good people, even if you get swept somewhere along the way,” he tells Lowe. “This is what goes through my mind: I’m gonna be in my 11th year or something here, I’m gonna stick with it, and we’re gonna make the Finals.”

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Diallo, Udoh, Thomas

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey doesn’t seem inclined to break up his smallish backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. Olshey recently said he plans to keep his core group together, despite the team’s first-round flameout in the Western Conference playoffs last season. It might be wise to deal one of them for an impact forward but either Olshey has great faith in his guards or he’s tested the market and couldn’t find a worthwhile deal, Feldman adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Hamidou Diallo feels a sense of relief after signing a contract with the Thunder but isn’t sure what kind of role he can carve out, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman reports. The second-round rookie shooting guard was acquired in a draft-night deal. “We haven’t even spoken about a role yet,” Diallo told Dawson. “We’re still playing pickup ball and stuff like that, still training. Guys are just coming in, veteran players, and trying to teach us as much as possible as early as possible.” Diallo, who received a three-year, $4MM contract, will compete with newcomers Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Abdel Nader for backup minutes.
  • The Jazz brought back big man Ekpe Udoh because of his defense and positive attitude, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune. Udoh was signed by Utah last season because of his reputation as a strong defender and he lived up to that billing, posting an average of 1.2 blocks per game. He also showed a superior ability to guard on the perimeter during switches and pick-and-rolls, Jones continues. Udoh, who will serve as the team’s third center, never complained last season when his role diminished, Jones adds. Udoh had his $3.36MM salary guaranteed last month.
  • Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas had to settle for a one-year, $2MM contract in free agency but he’s determined to be a major bargain for his new team, as he told Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports“This has been tough, but it was only a tough year because I wasn’t healthy. My job is to get as healthy as I possibly can and then show the world what I’m capable of doing,” he said.

Blazers’ Neil Olshey Discusses Offseason Approach

The Trail Blazers may adjust their roster-building strategy to some extent during the 2018 offseason, team president of basketball operations Neil Olshey told ESPN (video link via Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com).

As Sean Meagher of The Oregonian transcribes, Olshey explained that the team has focused on retooling its roster around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum since LaMarcus Aldridge‘s departure in 2015. While the Blazers’ goal in those years was to continue making the postseason and avoid bottoming out, Olshey suggests that it may be time for Portland to aim higher going forward, shifting the focus to success in the playoffs.

“I think this offseason we shift our focus to playoff-caliber guys,” Olshey said. “Guys that hit the right benchmarks or the body of work that can really perform come April knowing the rebuild got done quicker than we thought and it’s time to start thinking of playoff success over whether or not we can or can’t make the playoffs while retooling.”

According to Olshey, he believes in retrospect the Blazers may have been too conservative during the 2017 offseason and at the 2018 deadline, suggesting that there would have been value in exploring moves aimed at increasing the team’s ceiling in the postseason.

“We were probably far too protective of our draft pick and our trade exceptions and the tools we had to continue to build the roster long term, and maybe lost sight of the fact that the first round was going to be more competitive that we expected,” Olshey said.

While the Blazers may look to be less conservative during the 2018 offseason, they’ll also have to be wary of their financial situation. For instance, the club would certainly like to find a good use for its $13MM trade exception that expires in July, but with $110MM+ in guaranteed salary on the books for 2018/19 and Jusuf Nurkic unsigned, the luxury-tax line looms as a potential deterrent.

Northwest Notes: Rose, Roberson, Brewer, Olshey

Derrick Rose, who signed with the Timberwolves earlier today, will make $460,468 for the rest of the season, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The move will carry a $290,951 cap hit for Minnesota, which still has one open roster space. The team will save about $100K between the signing of Rose and the buyout of Shabazz Muhammad, Marks adds (Twitter link). Rose still has about $460K remaining on the minimum-salary deal he signed with the Cavaliers last summer.

Rose participated in today’s shootaround with the Wolves, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, and may play tonight against the Celtics, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).

“I think I can play with anybody, to tell you the truth,” Rose said. “I know the game. I’m not a selfish player. I’m not here for stats or anything like that. I just want to win.” (Twitter link).

“I know who Derrick is,” added Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, who coached Rose in Chicago. “I know who he is. I spent a lot of time with him.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from the Midwest Division:

  • Thunder guard Andre Roberson is facing “the slow grind” of rehabbing from a torn patellar tendon, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Although he has gotten past “the pain stages” of the injury, Roberson’s left knee is still mostly immobile and he can barely bend it. “It’s definitely the mental part,” Roberson said when asked about the toughest part of the injury. “Staying positive. Just tell yourself, ‘Day by day, get through it.’ And just grind it out.” Without Roberson, the Thunder have fallen from sixth to 21st in defensive rating.
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is happy to see Thunder swingman Corey Brewer get another shot with a contender, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Brewer, who played in Houston before being traded last season, signed with Oklahoma City over the weekend after agreeing to a buyout with the Lakers. “You can’t go wrong signing a guy like that,” D’Antoni said. “Guys wanted to re-sign him just for being on the airplane laughing with him. He’s terrific.”
  • Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey discussed the Western Conference playoff race, the challenges of operating without a direct G League affiliate and the plan to add more talent around Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.