Late Neil Olshey – Willamette Week


Take a second and think about your boss. If they were replaced tomorrow, would that interest you? Are they so amazing at their job that you can’t even imagine things that happen in the office without them, in particular?

Maybe your boss is a super genius. They have a robotic arm or do multivariate calculations in their heads. But, more likely than not, the best thing you can say about your boss is that he’s pretty good, you’re used to him, and it would be painful to get used to a new boss. Bosses don’t really have a value like that. They are not irreplaceable. They are only people in the service of a function. Someone has to do it and they are doing it now.

The general manager of an NBA team, or the president of basketball operations, or whatever they are called, is more or less the boss of an NBA team’s basketball product. (The team president, a different guy, oversees the money and marketing side.) They write guys and do trades, the main front-end tasks in the office, but they also iron out internal conflicts, oversee coaching decisions, allocate money to conditioning and performance crap. Like your boss, most of them are doing fine.

A few of them are extraordinarily good at their jobs, but I would be hard pressed to name someone who is totally irreplaceable. An example: Masai Ujiri, arguably the best general manager in the league, once worked for the Denver Nuggets, where he made a name for himself by assembling a wild team of eccentrics who was escorted from the first round. Based on that performance, the Toronto Raptors offered him more money than the Nuggets wanted to match. Ujiri went to Toronto, traded for Kyle Lowry, moved the decade’s copper balls by trading for Kawhi Leonard even with only one season left on his contract, and the Raptors won the championship. in 2019. Good job, Masai!

You might think the Nuggets regretted that decision, regretted the day they walked through Masai and fell apart forever. But in fact, they are doing well! There was a bad patch there. But they were the third seed this year and their great psychedelic center just won the MVP title. More tangible success than Masai ever brought to the team, honestly. Tim Connley, who has been their Managing Director since Masai left, has done a very good job. Masai is terribly good, but the Nuggets have continued to work without him.

A GM only brings so much to the table. Their usefulness is proportional to the little they screw up. Blazers general manager Neil Olshey is a big mistake and the Blazers need to move on.

The relevant event that elicits this sentiment is that this weekend, Olshey hired Chancey Billups to coach the team next year, despite a civil sexual assault lawsuit being settled in 2000. Much of the base fans, especially abuse survivors, are extremely angry with the team for making the move, especially after publicly flirting with the idea of ​​making Spurs assistant Becky Hammond the first female coach of the league. Olshey, who is used to nurturing relationships in all of his NBA jobs, has worked with Billups on the Clippers and is widely seen as the driving force behind hiring.

Whether Damian Lillard, the team’s star point guard, has been consulted on this is a matter of public disagreement at this point. Bleacher Report says it was, Chris Haynes, who worked in Portland early in Lillard’s career and could possibly be called “the Lady Guy” in the media, says otherwise. Like most public institutions, the truth about what goes on in a sports organization is rarely known in a purely objective way. Either way, the backlash in the affair, along with the team’s recent dead fish playoff performances, have Lillard making noises about wanting to get out.

It’s a mess that looks set to lead the Blazers to a junkyard in the near future – completely avoidable had the team done their due diligence by taking the public’s temperature on the matter in Portland.

Neil’s response when asked about it?

Believe me man, it’s okay, okay!

Also: Don’t ask anymore! Or I’ll do the most obvious shit in the world to pretend someone else is telling you not to answer the question!

Sitting in the cold world of rational analysis, I can’t really say that I think Lillard is so good at basketball that the Blazers would have to go to any whim to retain his service. Whenever the team’s shortcomings are reported by the media, Lillard is generally able to avoid criticism, but he’s really, really bad at defense, he doesn’t do much to move the ball (a particular issue when Terry Stotts, a movement violation scholar, was a coach), and the extent of his clutch heroism probably wouldn’t be necessary if he and the team weren’t inclined to give up the runs. The stars are leaving the teams, and even though the fan base has developed a Cult of Dame, all this shit will end someday. Sunrise.

But. BUT. It’s clearly not worth losing Lillard in a power struggle with this fucking Neil Olshey, who has done everything in his power to turn the squad roster into awkward confusion during his time with the ‘team.

In the Aldridge years, it was the bench: Lillard-Matthew-Batum-Aldridge-Lopez was a single powerful unit, but the team’s dedication to Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright and former Clipper Chris Kaman made it their second completely unnecessary units. Later, it was his slavish dedication to the players he drafted.

CJ McCollum, a great player who just doesn’t fit Lillard stylistically, has never been on the market. After a season where he shot 40% of three, Olshey gave his nice draft boy Meyers Leonard, the most hated Blazer of my life, a big contract to come off the bench and regularly throw the ball out of bounds.

Olshey’s only decent move during this time was signing Al Farouq Aminu, who was drafted by Olshey for the Clippers. And, even then: Aminu’s 3-point shot didn’t exactly create the space Lillard needed to get to the edge. OK, there was a second good move: Olshey also bought low on Jusuf Nurkic. But it probably only worked thanks to Lillard’s donations in Molding Young Men With His Excellent Leadership â„¢.

Since getting Nurkic, Olshey has continued to double his own draft sense, which is not real. Olshey, you see, is not a “man of numbers.” He trusts his abilities as a designer. Don’t get me wrong: the McKinsey weirdos who run the office of every sports team owned by a former technician are also bad. But at least they’re basing their decisions on something tangible, and not on My Gift for Drafting, the world’s shallowest business. Don’t base your organization on it, and mostly don’t base your organization on a guy’s hunches about this. The draft is bullshit, it’s impossible to control, anyone who says otherwise is a con artist.

Following the sweet scent of his own designer majesty, the team Olshey has assembled around Lillard is absurd. Lack of defense or wing shot has been a problem since Aminu left. The team had, I don’t care, the 29th worst defense of the league’s 30 teams this year. Nurkic is the team’s only more consistent defender, and even that is pretty pointless when he’s drowning in fouls because of every player in the league charging the rim at every opportunity.

The Blazers’ backcourt consists of two smaller scoring guards. When the time came to improve the roster for a playoff run, Olshey traded for Norm Powell… another goaltender. Neil’s signings don’t complement Lillard so much as they attempt to replicate his production to varying degrees, as if enough Lillards are enough for the team for Lillard to be successful. I was happy to have Melo in the team, but also… he’s a great Lillard! Enes Kanter: Lillard center! Anfernee Simons: Lillard, but a little bad! This continues, Lillards down to an insanely bad defense who has spent the entire year getting bailed out by Real Lillard throwing 30 feet and snapping his brass balls together.

After the team fired Terry Stotts (a good coach who probably needed to move on) a few weeks ago, Olshey appeared in front of the media and told them he was pretty sure the list was A-OK and that, anyway, it was impossible to make a big hit because, uh, damn, these guys make a lot of money or whatever. It was as if the Angstrom bunny was standing on his child’s grave and letting everyone know that in fact he hadn’t done this. (In case you haven’t read Rabbit run: He did it !)

Seriously, man, if there’s nothing you can do to improve the list, you’re inclined to wildly screw up what should be a routine trainer hire, and Lillard is running away at you left and right, so what are you even doing here, other than excusing the property from paying someone better to do your job?

GMs are almost all consumable and Olshey is particularly consumable. Just pay his contract and move on to someone who won’t miss for years and has more common sense than choreographing a blatant sip from a bottle dance with a PR person to keep Jason Quick from asking questions. sex to your new trainer. assault charges.

He would be grateful. He doesn’t even like it here. He constantly complains about the difficulty of recruiting good players from a lost hole like Portland. Go run some lousy tracking service somewhere, man. It is time to move on.


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