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NBA

The Blazers fire Neil Olshey after independent investigation

Though no details have been released, it is understood that the president of basketball operations was found to be in violation of the franchise's code of conduct.

Update:
After the conclusion of an independent investigation into workplace conduct, the Portland Trailblazers fired president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
AFP

With an investigation into work place over, it seems the findings left the franchise no choice.

The Blazers fire Neil Olshey

According to reports on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Olshey's dismissal comes in the wake of an independent investigation that found he had violated the team's code of conduct. "Out of respect for those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it," the Trail Blazers said in a statement. "We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment." The statement also added that Joe Cronin will serve as interim general manager while team searches for a permanent replacement.

The Blazers, Olshey and the investigation

In November it was first reported that the Blazers had contracted law firm O'Melveny & Myers for the purpose of conducting an independent investigation into "concerns around workplace environment by non-player personnel at the practice facility." It was alleged that Olshey had created a hostile work environment and on various occasions had engaged in bullying and intimidation.

Olshey, who has worked with the Trail Blazers' since 2012 - when he appointed as general manager - after serving with the LA Clippers for 9 years. In 2015 he also assumed the role of president of basketball operations title in 2015. It is worth noting that Olshey's dismissal is not the only departure for the Blazers in recent times. President and CEO Chris McGowan resigned last month after holding the post for 9 years.

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The Blazers are in flux

For the moment Portland appear to be a team that is underachieving but the reason why is perhaps not so easy to define. There have of course been questions about the hiring of head coach Chauncey Billups. A five-time NBA All-Star who enjoyed a 15 year career as a player, Billups courted controversy not just because of his apparent inexperience, but for sexual assault allegations that were brought against him in 1997. The coach never faced charges, however, he did agree to an out of court settlement with the woman who accused him. as his replacement.

There is also the situation surrounding star player Damian Lillard who incidentally, was selected by the Blazers just one month after hiring Olshey. Lillard was the sixth overall pick in the 2012 draft and immediately became the focal point of the franchise. A six-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year, Lillard has averaged 21.5 points and 7.8 assists per game for his career, however, he has had his struggles in 2021.Whatever the case, the Blazers who are 11-12 with Billups at the helm, just lost to the San Antonio Spurs 114-83 on Thursday night. 

In the end, it would appear that the results of the investigation sealed Olshey's fate. Yet it is worth noting that under Olshey, the Trail Blazers qualified for the playoffs in their last 8 seasons, the longest active streak in the NBA. Their best finish was in 2018-19, when when they made it to the Western Conference finals.

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