Posts Tagged ‘Neil Olshey’

Long-Awaited Picks Claver, Freeland Finally (Set To Be) Blazers

HANG TIME WEST – They are coming, finally. Eventually.

The Olympics are the last step. Victor Claver will play for Spain as a heavy favorite to medal and Joel Freeland for host Britain as a heavy favorite to not medal. They then become Trail Blazers teammates with enough recovery time on their hands before training camp opens.

That they will become Blazers at all is a development more significant than most international arrivals. Two at the same time is noteworthy. Two at the same time for the frontline, with the chance to immediately join the rotation, is important for a team trying to push back into the playoffs and can use their help.

Claver, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound small forward who can play some power forward, was the No. 22 pick in 2009. Freeland, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound power forward who can play some center, was No. 30 in 2006. That’s a lot of waiting that, at last, faces a payoff.

“I think the time was absolutely right for both of them to come,” said Neil Olshey, the new general manager who joined the organization years after both were drafted. “We’ve got a young roster and they’ve both got a chance to contribute immediately if their game translates from what they’ve done in international basketball. They both play positions where we’re going to need some depth. And they’ve both got transferrable skills. Joel’s ability to rebound, score around the basket, defend multiple positions. And Victor’s length, his ability to stretch the floor, he’s a nice complement to Nic.”


Clipper Nation Grows With Turiaf

HANG TIME, TEXAS — Remember how things used to be with the Clippers? They were the NBA’s version of the groundhog, coming out on rare occasion only long enough to see their shadow and then going back into hibernation.

Not anymore, Punxsutawney Phil-breath.

After a thoroughly enjoyable 40-26 season that earned them the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference and then a stirring seven-game first-round playoff series win over Memphis, the Clips have hardly spent the summer relaxing on the beach.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times says they have boosted their bench with another addition:

The Clippers and free-agent Ronny Turiaf have agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract worth $1.146 million, said NBA executives who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Turiaf, a 6-10, 245-pounder, will be a backup power forward and center for the Clippers.

He becomes the fifth big man for the Clippers – behind starters DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and reserves Lamar Odom and Ryan Hollins – the 13th player on the roster.

Turiaf played his first three NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He played for the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat last season. (more…)

Blazers Swing For The Fences In Coaching Search

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Portland Trail Blazers need a head coach. And apparently, their search starts at the top.

Chris B. Haynes of reports that new Blazers GM Neil Olshey has been swinging for the fences in his search for a new coach.

The Portland Trail Blazers attempted to snag former Utah Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan, out of retirement this week by formally offering him their head coach position in Salt Lake City.

Sloan later turned down the offer, but that wasn’t the Trail Blazers first big swing.

For the last few months, the Trail Blazers have been in back-and-forth discussions with Phil Jackson in an attempt to persuade him to take their head coaching vacancy, a close source said.

Hey, there’s no harm in asking, right? The worst thing that can happen is they say “No.” And it’s not like other coaching candidates are going to be offended that you went after a pair of Hall of Famers first.

The Oregonian reports that Olshey will now conduct interviews with several candidates at the Las Vegas Summer League. Kaleb Canales, who took over for the fired Nate McMillan in March, is still a candidate to be given the job full-time.


Despite high cost, Blazers likely to match Batum’s offer from Wolves

HANG TIME WEST – The plan from the beginning was the right plan: The Trail Blazers would match any offer sheet Nicolas Batum signed and keep an important part of the lineup in place while they made significant additions through the draft and free agency.

Grow the team with Batum at 23 years old and set at small forward. Protect an asset. It made perfect sense.

But then came Thursday and news that restricted free agent Batum and the Timberwolves had agreed to a four-year, $45-million deal that can top $50 million with incentive bonuses. It came with the kicker that Batum and his agent urged Portland officials not to match.

And suddenly the end result was not so simple. Not the part about the request to let Batum go Minnesota. That is common in these situations, is usually rightly ignored by the original team, and in time becomes a forgotten part of a tangled negotiating process. Same thing with Eric Gordon and the Hornets – he has an agreement with the Suns, he said his heart is in Phoenix, and every indication is that New Orleans will match anyway.

It’s the other part. The one about Nicolas Batum averaging $11.25 million annually.


Hibbert Favoring Portland’s Max Offer

Free agent center Roy Hibbert is now leaning toward wanting to play with the Portland Trail Blazers next season, a day after the restricted free agent got a verbal commitment from the Blazers that they would tender a four-year, $58 million offer sheet to him, the maximum he can receive under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources confirmed Sunday.

Hibbert, acquired by the Indiana Pacers (from the Toronto Raptors) on Draft day in 2008, had long expressed his desire to remain with the team that traded for him and helped him develop into an All-Star last season. But the 25-year-old was apparently blown away by the presentation made Saturday in Washington, D.C., by the Blazers’ contingent, which included Portland’s new general manager, Neil Olshey.

The Pacers would still be able to match any offer for Hibbbert when the July moratorium expires, but teams generally work out deals for players who express a specific desire to be elsewhere once they become free agents.

The Pacers are still likely to match the offer, because Hibbert has become one of the league’s top centers and his skills as a passing big man are a rare commodity in the NBA these days. But a source indicated Sunday that the organization would have to take a look at the offer before making a definitive commitment.


Some Thoughts On The End of Chicago’s Pre-Draft Camp

CHICAGO – Downtown to O’Hare at 6:15 p.m. on a Friday? No problem.

So, quickly, a few thoughts as the two-day pre-draft camp ends at the University of Illinois Chicago…

  • Dion Waiterswithdrew from the combine after the first day, a move that essentially confirms unusually candid statements from at least one opposing executive that the Syracuse shooting guard has received a draft promise and will be cancelling future workouts.It is not known which team (apparently) gave Waiters the completely unenforceable verbal agreement in exchange for the completely unenforceable verbal agreement to call off whatever showcases had been scheduled. But with Waiters bound for the lottery anyway and climbing the board as June 28 approaches, logic dictates it would be someone in the 5-to-10 range. He would be foolish to give up the chance to reach mid-lottery for a promise from a team in double digits.Raptors president Bryan Colangelo told the Toronto Star that “His agent has told me there’s a promise to another team,” which is more public candor than normal from an executive or agent on the topic. And as Colangelo noted as well, Toronto, or anyone could still take Waiters. Just as the team that gave Waiters the promise could conveniently forget the handshake arrangement on draft night if another player is unexpectedly available.
  • There is a good chance the Trail Blazers will wait until after the draft to hire a new coach or remove the interim tag from Kaleb Canales.Indications are that general manager Neil Olshey, hired Monday, is more open to keep both lottery picks and build for the future in contrast to the previous plan that seemed to lean toward trading No. 6 and/or No. 11 for immediate help in win-now mode around LaMarcus Aldridge. The new Portland management team, wanting the roster to help dictate the coach, is more likely to see the direction of the team before deciding whether to go with an assistant in line for a first job or an experienced hand.


Olshey Leaving Clippers, Taking GM Reins In Portland

In another bizarre move from pro basketball’s most bizarre franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers announced Monday that general manager Neil Olshey — whom they had said three days ago had agreed to terms to remain with the team — was instead leaving, with sources confirming that Olshey would be named the Trail Blazers’ new GM. A news conference is expected in Portland Tuesday.

Olshey, who engineered the trade that brought All-Star Chris Paul to the Clippers in a franchise-altering deal in December, had been working all season without a contract, with owner Donald Sterling unwilling to sign him to a long-term deal.

On Friday, the Clippers had announced Olshey had agreed to terms on a new deal, with a conference call set up for Monday afternoon. But one side clearly didn’t think a deal was done.

“Circumstances have obviously undergone some movement since our announcement Friday. In light of that, we want to wish Neil well and acknowledge his contributions during the time he spent with the Clippers,” team president Andy Roeser said in a statement released by the team Monday afternoon.

Olshey had been the Clippers’ GM for two years, replacing Mike Dunleavy in 2010, and his acquisition of players like Paul and free agent forward Caron Butler dramatically re-shaped the team’s roster. But he interviewed with Blazers owner Paul Allen a couple of weeks ago in Europe, and was believed to be Allen’s choice for the job.

In Portland, he will replace interim GM Chad Buchanan, who had been the Blazers’ acting GM since the team fired Rich Cho last summer. The Blazers had interviewed several candidates for the job, including TNT analyst Steve Kerr and former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower. Portland may also be looking for a new head coach to replace interim head coach Kaleb Canales, who replaced the fired Nate McMillan in February.

Olshey opted for Portland, according to a source, because the Blazers — while not being an easy place to work either, having fired several executives in the last three years, including Cho, his predecessor, Kevin Pritchard, and Pritchard’s assistant, Tom Penn — nonetheless have the resources available to be involved in any transaction. With Allen’s largesse, the Blazers are always potential players in any trade, free-agent signing or Draft day deals. The Blazers currently have the sixth and 11th picks overall in this month’s Draft.

In Los Angeles, Olshey only had a handful of people working with him in the basketball operations staff — “he was basically MacGuyver down there, “ a source said — and had difficulty getting decisions made quickly. Nonetheless, he had enough clout to dramatically, and historically, remake the Clippers’ roster in a frantic two-week frame in December.

First, after the NBA, which owned the Hornets at the time, controversially vetoed a three-team trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers, Olshey was able to leverage the Clippers into position to make a deal with New Orleans to acquire Paul in exchange for guard Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman and a 2010 first-round pick.

Then, the Clippers signed Butler to a three-year, $24 million deal. They followed that by convincing guard Chauncey Billups to report to the team after they claimed him off waivers from the Knicks. Finally, the Clippers matched a four-year, $43 million offer sheet that restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan received from Golden State.

During the season, Olshey added veteran big man Kenyon Martin, who’d been playing in China during the lockout, signed free agent Reggie Evans and acquired guard Nick Young from Washington as part of a three-team trade.

With the team’s new core surrounding third-year star Blake Griffin, the Clippers dealt with expectations they had never dealt with before. For the first time, there were serious questions asked about which Los Angeles basketball team was better. In the end, both the Clippers and Lakers reached the second round of the playoffs, and while that was a disappointment for the Lakers, it marked only the second time in 35 years that the Clippers had gotten that far in the postseason.

A search for a replacement for Olshey is already underway, headed up by Roeser. In the interim, all responsibilities pertaining to the team’s basketball operations will be absorbed by Roeser, head coach Vinny Del Negro, and Clippers’ Director of Player Personnel Gary Sacks.

No Regrets For Clippers

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS (WEST COAST OFFICE) — The deal the Clippers celebrated in February as the chance to add Mo Williams and ditch Baron Davis and his bloated contract became the source of at least an instant of stabbing pain Tuesday when the Lottery pick included in the trade turned into the No. 1 pick in the Draft for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland got the selection along with Davis for Williams and Jamario Moon, and so Cleveland will almost certainly take Kyrie Irving with the top selection on June 23 as the Duke freshman becomes the point guard of the future for the Cavaliers instead of the Clippers. Guess what the Clips will be hearing about all summer?

“Protecting the pick was never an option,” L.A. general manager Neil Olshey told “There is no way to Monday morning quarterback this (since) our draft position wouldn’t have been the same had we not made the deal as I’m sure we would not have finished 11-11 post-trade without Mo Williams.

“Additionally, we had a 97-percent chance of sitting here tonight with Baron Davis (taking up 25 percent of our cap), the eighth pick in a weak draft and no cap flexibility. Adding Mo Williams and $8.5 million in cap room gave us a better opportunity to become a playoff team next year than adding a seventh player under 23 with no NBA experience.”

Saying adding protection to the pick — for the top three, for example — was not possible is an indication the clause would have been a deal breaker for the Cavaliers. Given the chance to scuttle the deal or jump on the rare chance to move Davis’ contract, the Clippers took the risk that would blow up on them months later.

The Clippers figured, or hoped, they were trading the No. 8 choice in a bad draft and that there was little chance of a bad outcome. Indeed, there was only a 2.8 percent chance the pick would move all the way to the top. Welcome to that bad outcome.

Time for Talking is Done

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – A day of celebration and pride at Clippers HQ over trading the so-called untradeable contract of Baron Davis gave way to a hard line from general manager Neil Olshey that dramatically increased the expectations, and the pressure, on coaches and players to do more than just make the playoffs next season.

Speaking with a group of reporters at the practice facility Thursday as the move to send Davis and a 2011 first-round pick to the Cavaliers for Mo Williams, Olshey used phrases like “We can’t keep waiting for incremental pieces” and “We need to accelerate our curve in terms of wins and losses, and Mo helps us do that.” But later, in an interview with, Olshey went a step further:

“The time for talking is done.”

Getting out from under Davis’ contract and conditioning problems, even if he had built good chemistry with franchise cornerstone Blake Griffin, was seen around here Thursday as an important step forward. The Clippers lost the push of Davis as point guard, but gained a better perimeter shooter to draw some of the defensive heat away from power forward Griffin and the DeAndre JordanChris Kaman center tandem inside, and at a lower salary that streamlines the salary cap for future moves. Plus, Griffin is near the end of his rookie season, just as coach Vinny Del Negro is past the transition period of his first year on the job in Los Angeles, and Jordan is enjoying a breakout 2010-11.

“I’ll be completely unsatisfied if what we have right now, and the ability that we have to make it even better, if we are not a factor in the playoffs,” Olshey said of next season.

Just making the playoffs will not be enough, in other words.

“No,” Olshey said. “I think we need to be a factor. I think we can. If you saw the nights where we played Miami and the Lakers and Oklahoma City and San Antonio and Chicago and Denver – these are the teams we’d have to play in the playoffs and we have a fair chance to beat these guys, and that’s been without [injured] Chris Kaman. We need to find a way to do it every night. Losing becomes a habit and we need to break that habit.

“I think we’ve done that at home. We’ve been very good at home. But now the next step in the maturation process is doing it on the road and beating the teams you’re supposed to beat. I think we’re going to be capable of doing that now. We add a point guard like Mo who’s played 30 playoff games in the last two years. He’s been successful with every team he’s been on. He’s gotten each team he’s been on to the playoffs. Our guys know now what it’s like to play fun basketball and be exciting. Now they need to know what it’s like to do nuts and bolts and get it done and get wins.”

Long run guaranteed for BlakeShow

The Clippers have guaranteed that Blake Griffin isn’t going anywhere. Ever. Well, as in playing for another team.

Don’t expect a ‘Melo-drama involving the BlakeShow in 2014 or ’15 or ’16. Don’t think Blake Superior is going test those free agents waters like he’s dipping his toes into the Pacific.

At least that’s the opinion of a big wig at the Clip Joint, according to Ramona Shelburne of

“I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper,” general manager Neil Olshey said of his prized rookie. “If [Oklahoma City Thunder general manager] Sam Presti arrived on Kevin Durant‘s doorstep at midnight on July 1st with an extension, understand that Blake Griffin lives two blocks away from me in Manhattan Beach so it’s going to be a much shorter commute for me.”

Considering the history of the Donald Sterling‘s franchise, there’s no guarantee Olshey will still be employed when Griffin’s rookie contract runs out. But the sentiment is clear: L.A.’s other team has found a franchise player in Blake and plans to build around the Rookie of the Year favorite.

The Nuggets have thought the same for the last seven years with Carmelo Anthony. Things change, as do priorities. ‘Melo says being in a position to ultimately win a title is his only goal. He’s not convinced that can happen in Denver. As for New York …

Who’s to say Griffin won’t want the same thing. Again, considering the Clippers’ history, winning is hardly guaranteed. Olshey countered that the Clips are winning now, though he’s using a sample size of less than 20 games. The GM also pointed to the young talent being assembled, such as Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu.

“The future looks pretty good. The only question will be, in two or three years with Blake, is how much more we’ll be winning.”