Tayshaun Prince

Trail Blazers Notes: Billups, Lillard, GM Search, McCollum

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.

Blazers Notes: Billups, Olshey, Roster Moves, Lillard, Eversley, Perry, Prince

In a fascinating piece released mere minutes before former president and general manager Neil Olshey was fired by the Trail Blazers, Jason Quick of The Athletic details how he views head coach Chauncey Billups as a poor schematic fit with Portland’s flawed roster — constructed by Olshey.

Even before star Damian Lillard was announced as being injured, it was clear that Portland was not functioning as a cohesive unit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Quick writes that the team had grown accustomed to ex-coach Terry Stotts‘ freedom on both ends of the court, and Billups wants to instill more structure and accountability, with a more aggressive defense and more ball movement on offense.

However, Billups’ stern exchanges have seemingly demoralized the group, and Quick asked Billups how he thought it was going over with the players.

I think pretty good, but at the end of the day, it’s not easy,” Billups said. “It’s not easy all the time to hear when you are not doing what you are supposed to do, especially from the coach. All I care about is I believe we should play one way. I know what wins, I know what’s important. When we don’t do it, obviously I’m going to always bring it to the table, to those players, to those people. And I know it’s not always going to be well received.

But I know it’s the best thing for the team, it’s the best thing for the player and at the end of the day, if you are mad or upset, if you actually really want to win and be a good teammate, you go home and think about that, look yourself in the mirror, and you are going to realize what I was saying was right, you know? With no agenda at all other than for us to try and get better. So, I can ride with that. That’s just kind of who I was as a player, who I am as a person, and I will be consistent there.”

Quick believes that while it is a talented group of players, the roster that Olshey built doesn’t make sense under Billups. He mentions the fact that the Blazers have three 6’3″ guards (Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell) all starting, which leads to them being exploited defensively. Quick also says that Olshey’s infatuation with McCollum and refusal to trade him hurt the team. He thinks a roster shakeup is absolutely necessary in order to break the team out of its early season funk. The Blazers are currently 11-12.

It’s a great article from Quick and worth reading in full for subscribers of The Athletic.

Here’s more from Portland:

  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks thinks the Blazers should explore trading Lillard (video link). He believes Lillard may have peaked as a player, pointing to his age (31), huge contract, and the high number of minutes he’s played over the years. Marks thinks it could be worth it to try and extract maximum value for Lillard before it’s too late. However, he acknowledges that the situation will be very tricky for whomever takes over the front office, as Lillard is one of the best players in franchise history.
  • John Canzano of The Oregonian is happy the Blazers pulled the plug on the Olshey, and believes that it will galvanize the organization and fan base.
  • Bulls general manager Marc Eversley and Knicks general manager Scott Perry are both candidates to replace Olshey as GM, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • A source tells Quick of The Athletic that Grizzlies VP of basketball affairs Tayshaun Prince, who had previously been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Olshey, is not in the running for the role (Twitter link).

Trail Blazers Fire Neil Olshey

The Trail Blazers have fired general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, the team announced (via Twitter).

Olshey has been under a month-long investigation relating to his actions in the workplace, prompted by accusations of misconduct from at least one team employee. Workers have allegedly been subjected to “intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics” from Olshey.

The team addressed the investigation in a release announcing the move, stating that Olshey was terminated “due to violations of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Code of Conduct.”

“Out of respect for those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it,” the release states. “We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment.”

Director of player personnel Joe Cronin will take over as interim general manager while the team searches for a permanent replacement, the release adds.

Two candidates who will likely receive consideration for the permanent job are Grizzlies VP of basketball affairs Tayshaun Prince and Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Former Celtics executive Danny Ainge may also be in the mix, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

A source tells Jason Quick of The Athletic that Olshey learned of his firing this morning (Twitter link). Olshey got no indication of the move during discussions Thursday night with vice chair Bert Kolde or team owner Jody Allen, Quick adds.

Olshey, 56, had served as Portland’s general manager since 2012, but there have been rumors for some time that his job was in jeopardy. In addition to the workplace investigation, Olshey has been under fire for the team’s string of first-round playoff exits and received criticism for not being more responsive about the hiring of Chauncey Billups as head coach in light of sexual assault allegations against Billups from 1997.

Several pressing issues will face Olshey’s replacement, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Damian Lillard has repeatedly expressed a desire to play for a contender, and the Blazers are currently in ninth place in the West at 11-12. The organization will also have to decide whether to hold on to Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic, who both have expiring contracts.

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stone, Williams, Moore, Hayes

Rockets coach Stephen Silas didn’t attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team’s draft picks because he’s been placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Silas has “very minor” coronavirus symptoms and is fully vaccinated. He was involved in the team’s draft preparations, including the workout of Jalen Green, whom the Rockets chose with the No. 2 pick.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets kept their three first-round picks on Thursday and also acquired a fourth pick to select big man Alperen Sengun in the first round. The team’s GM, Rafael Stone, said the rookies now must show they were worthy of the front office’s faith in them, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s going to be on Jalen and on us to prove it out, but not just him,” Stone said. “It’s all these guys and the guys on our current roster, we’re all in it together. We got to grow. We’ve got to help each other and we’ve got to get better.”
  • Ziaire Williams was hoping the Grizzlies would use the No. 10 pick on him, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I kept it a secret because I didn’t want to mess it up,” Williams said. “But truthfully, my family will tell you, (VP of basketball affairs) Tayshaun Prince, (GM) Zach (Kleiman), everyone, this is where I really wanted to be.”
  • Ben Moore will play on the Grizzlies’ summer league team, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Moore, who spent last season in Australia with South East Melbourne, played two games with the Pacers in 2017/18.
  • Jaxson Hayes was shocked twice with a stun gun and may have had force applied to his neck during an altercation with Los Angeles police, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. An investigation into whether officers’ use of force was appropriate is underway while Hayes faces a count of resisting arrest, Vargas adds. The Pelicans center was arrested early Wednesday following a domestic dispute call. He was charged with a felony.

Central Notes: Bulls, Cavs, Prince, Pistons

Now that the Bulls have been officially excluded from the NBA’s 22-team resumption, the team will naturally turn their attention to an exciting offseason, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. This will mark Chicago’s first offseason with Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley at the helm of the team’s front office. Karnisovas and Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf both released official statements expressing disappointment at not getting to partake in the conclusion of the season from a player development perspective.

The status of head coach Jim Boylen, despite support from ownership and former president of operations John Paxson, remains the biggest question mark. Boylen owns a 39-84 record as head coach. Otto Porter Jr., the team’s injury-prone highest-paid player, is expected to opt in to the final season of his four-year, $106.5MM contract.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers voiced their frustration about not being invited to the league’s 22-team Orlando restart this summer, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The team finishes with the East’s worst record, 19-46. “This is a killer for us and our development,” a Cleveland organization member relayed to Fedor.
  • The Pistons are still potentially considering 2004 championship small forward Tayshaun Prince for a front office position with the club, according to Omari Sanofka II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Sanofka notes that Detroit is currently on the hunt for an experienced general manager and an up-and-coming assistant, a position for which Prince, currently in the Grizzlies front office as VP of basketball affairs, is considered a prime candidate.
  • Progress is being made in the Pistons’ search for a new GM, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit NewsMalik Rose and Pat Garrity had been the team’s top two assistant general managers, reporting directly to de facto head of basketball operations Ed Stefanski. Rose is leaving the organization and Garrity will not be in the running for the GM job. Others being considered are Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, former Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox, and former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough.

Pistons Notes: Prince, GM Candidates, Offseason

As the Pistons get their search for a general manager underway, Eric Woodyard of ESPN (Twitter link) hears from multiple sources that the team hasn’t requested to interview Tayshaun Prince. Currently the VP of basketball affairs for the Grizzlies, Prince was part of Detroit’s 2004 championship team and there was speculation he’d be a GM candidate, but he wasn’t on the team’s initial interview list, according to Woodyard.

As for candidates who might actually be on the Pistons’ list, sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that former Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, former Atlanta GM Wes Wilcox, and current Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes are among those receiving some consideration. However, Bondy cautions that the search will likely be “extensive,” so that list is far from exhaustive.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • With the Pistons’ season on the verge of coming to an end, Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a player-by-player look at some of the offseason decisions facing the franchise. Only Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya have fully guaranteed salaries for next season, though as Beard notes, it’s a safe bet that a few other players will be back.
  • In his latest mailbag, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com addresses the timeline for the Pistons’ GM search and how the team will handle not being part of the NBA’s resumption, among other topics.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we passed along word that the Pistons are becoming the 29th of 30 NBA teams to reopen their practice facility for individual player workouts — they’ll do so on Thursday.

Central Notes: Cavs’ Draft, T. Thompson, Prince, Bulls

The Cavaliers have Israeli forward Deni Avdija ranked in their second tier of draft prospects, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Fedor states that the team has done “extensive homework” on Avdija, but evaluation is tricky because he had limited playing time in the EuroLeague.

At 6’9″, Avdija offers athleticism, versatility and play-making, but his outside shot is questionable. Forward is Cleveland’s primary position of need, but Fedor indicates the team plans to take the best player available, regardless of position. He identifies Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball as the three players in the team’s first tier.

Fedor also says if the Cavs are interested in Obi Toppin, they should plan to use him as a power forward/center rather than a small forward. According to Fedor, Toppin doesn’t have the offensive skills or the lateral quickness to succeed on the perimeter in the NBA.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • If the Cavaliers‘ season is over, fans may not get the chance to say goodbye to a pair of franchise cornerstones in Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova, writes Evan Dammarell of Forbes. With Thompson’s $18.5MM and Dellavedova’s $9.6MM contracts deal both coming off the books, Dammarell doesn’t expect either to return next season, although Dellavedova may be willing to accept a veteran’s minimum deal. Thompson told the organization he would like to be traded to a contender before the deadline, Dammarell states, but Cleveland didn’t like any of the offers it received.
  • Former Pistons star Tayshaun Prince has the experience to succeed as the team’s next general manager, contends Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Prince performs a variety of roles in the Grizzlies’ front office and has become an influential voice since being hired in 2017.
  • Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times looks back at a disappointing season for the Bulls that will be over unless the NBA decides to resume the season for all 30 teams. Cowley hands out a few awards, such as Zach LaVine as player of the year and Coby White as reserve of the year, and says the most significant event was John Paxson’s decision to tell ownership in December that changes were needed in the front office.

Pistons Notes: GM Search, Kennard, Bone

The Pistons will focus on external candidates in their search for a new general manager, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The new GM will work alongside senior advisor Ed Stefanski to chart a course for the future of the franchise, while Malik Rose and Pat Garrity will be retained as assistant GMs.

Edwards identifies several potential candidates for the position: Pelicans assistant GM Bryson Graham, former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox, Jazz GM Justin Zanik, Clippers assistant GM Mark Hughes, who was considered for the GM job in Chicago, and Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver. Edwards also suggests that University of Memphis assistant coach Mike Miller, who had Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem as an agent during his playing career, could be brought in as another assistant GM.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News agrees on Hughes and Weaver and offers a few other candidates who might be in play. Shane Battier grew up in the Detroit area and serves as VP of basketball development and analytics with the Heat, but Beard believes it would be difficult to talk him into leaving Miami. Chauncey Billups is a Pistons hero from his playing days and has been considered for other front office openings. Tayshaun Prince, who teamed with Billups on the 2004 championship team, became VP of basketball operations for the Grizzlies last year. Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren has spent 14 years with the organization and has turned down other opportunities, but Beard believes the Pistons should contact him.
  • Working Luke Kennard back into the rotation would have been a priority if the season had continued, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Kennard, who had been battling tendinitis in both knees since December, was set to return in the Pistons’ next game when the hiatus was imposed. With Kennard about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, Detroit will have to decide soon whether to make a long-term commitment or try to trade him, and Langlois sees his shooting skills as an important element for a rebuilding team.
  • The Pistons may have other priorities at point guard that will prevent Jordan Bone from earning a roster spot next season, Langlois adds in the same piece. Derrick Rose has another year on his contract, and Langlois expects the team to find a veteran to complement him. Also, there will also be plenty of opportunity to fill the position in a draft that’s heavy on point guards. Bone saw limited time in 10 NBA games as a two-way player this season, but averaged 19.9 points per 36 minutes and shot 38% from 3-point range in the G League.

Western Notes: Paul, House, Prince, Favors, Suns

Rockets point guard Chris Paul was fined $35K for “aggressively confronting and recklessly making contact with a game official” but was not suspended, according to a league press release relayed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Paul was ejected with 4.4 seconds left in Game 1 of the Rockets’ conference semifinal series with Golden State on Sunday. He was whistled for his second technical foul when he made contact with referee Josh Tiven while arguing that Warriors guard Klay Thompson committed a loose-ball foul against him. The non-call on Thompson was correct, according to the NBA’s last two minute report, MacMahon notes. Paul said the contact was accidental.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Rockets reserve forward Danuel House harbors no ill will toward the Warriors for cutting him loose during training camp, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I was just trying to secure a job, show people my potential. I just needed an opportunity,” House said. “Those guys didn’t see me fit for it. I’m just grateful my hometown team took me in. It’s business. I respect the nature of the business. But of course I want to win.” House had three points and three rebounds in 21 minutes during the series opener. He had his two-way contract converted into a standard deal in mid-March.
  • Grizzlies executive Tayshaun Prince was promoted to “special advisor” to vice president of basketball affairs but his role won’t change much, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian explains. He’ll remain a crucial link from the front office to the players and coaches, though now with more empowerment, Herrington continues. Rich Cho, who was earlier named vice president of basketball strategy, will lead the analytics/research/systems staff while Chris Makris will continue to lead the traditional scouting staff, Herrington adds. Prince will also help evaluate professional, college and G League personnel.
  • Derrick Favors‘ chances of remaining with the Jazz hinge on what happens in the early days of free agency, as Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News explains. Favors’ $16.9MM salary for next season, which could total $18.8MM if he reaches incentives in the contract, becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster past July 6. If Utah is able to secure a commitment from a free agent power forward, Favors won’t get the guarantee. If it can’t find a suitable replacement by then, the team will likely retain Favors.
  • The Suns are close to hiring Gonzaga assistant coach Riccardo Fois for a major player development role within the organization, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Fois is current the Zags’ coordinator of analytics and video operations.

Grizzlies Promote Tayshaun Prince

As part of their continued effort to revamp their front office, the Grizzlies have promoted Tayshaun Prince to Vice President of Basketball Affairs within the franchise’s basketball operations department, according to an official release from the team.

In his new/enhanced role, Prince will “facilitate alignment between the front office, coaching staff and locker room and participate in the evaluation of professional, college and G League personnel.” So, it sounds like he’ll have several roles, both in scouting and in acting as a bridge between the players and front office on a day-to-day basis.

“We are excited to establish Tayshaun as a core member of our front office,” Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Zach Kleiman said. “His knowledge of the game is exceptional and we are thrilled he will continue providing valuable contributions to the organization on a day-to-day basis.”

As we’ve noted before, the Grizzlies have been searching for some more experienced basketball executives to join the front office ever since re-assigning Chris Wallace and promoting Kleiman, and this latest move certainly fits that narrative.

[RELATED: Grizzlies hire Rich Cho, Glen Grunwald]

Prince, who joined the Grizzlies’ front office in 2017 as Special Advisor to Wallace, also played for the Grizzlies for three seasons, from 2013 to 2015. He helped Memphis reach the Western Conference Finals in 2013 alongside Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Tony Allen.