trailblazers

New Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey: love ‘em and hate ‘em

Blazermaniac hope NBA gets “Olshey-ed”

The Trail Blazers did what nobody thought the team would ever do:  They hired a general manager. Former Los Angeles Clippers general manager Neil Olshey was named to the same role on Monday, just three weeks after his team was eliminated in the second round of the NBA playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs and a regular season record of 40-26.

Here are a few reasons to love it and hate it in Rip City.

Love ‘Em

1). Position Filled

It would not have mattered if they hired former Sonics and Blazers executives Bob Whitsitt again, the team needed to do this 11 months ago to appease the fan base more than anything else.

Neil Olshey

Then: I'm happy he had a 3rd-place finish in the NBA's Executive of the Year award

13 months without an official general manger is atrocious, and the hire was long overdue.

It is a thrill for Blazers fans to have someone to talk about and a man that can create a vision that Portland can get on board with. There is finally some structure in the front office and should set the course to fill the Blazers next need: A head coach.

2). Olshey’s Varying Perspectives

Olshey has a view of the game from a variety of perspectives with job titles such as director of player development, assistant coach, director of player personnel and assistant GM appearing on his resume, and I think that it provides him a huge advantage in his relationships with players and likely will serve him well when the team heads into free agency next month.

He will need to use all of those perspectives to determine whether forward Nicolas Batum is worth $8-$10 million, what front court pieces the team needs to pursue and if the NBA draft is fruitful given Portland’s positions. (6th and 11th picks)

3). Up-and-Coming General Manager

By virtue of his peer-voted third-place finish in the NBA’s Executive of the Year award for the 2011-2012 season, it is safe to assume that Olshey has a degree of respect from other NBA executives.

His track record is bland, but given the fact that he has not served as general manager for a considerable amount of time, the Blazers could be getting a man that is on his way up.

Olshey, 47, is young and engaging and given how fans took to former general manager Kevin Pritchard, Portland could be telling other teams in the future that they have been “Olshey-ed.”

Hate ‘Em

1). The Clippers

I am surprised that the Blazers went ransacking the Los Angeles Clippers for management improvements.

That franchise has been one of the worst in all of professional sports for the past 25 years and Olshey has been part of nine of those years. It seems counter-intuitive to raid one of the worst organizations in the field just because they caught lightning in a bottle and had success in one season.

If it was not for David Stern voiding a three-team trade that would have sent point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers would have found themselves sending a representative to the NBA Draft Lottery for yet another year and Olshey would still be largely unknown.

2). Outside of Acquiring Chris Paul… What Else?

While I like that Olshey has experience serving in a litany of roles during his NBA career, I don’t know exactly what makes his resume shine  brighter when compared to his counterparts.

Olshey was part of the group that drafted power forward Blake Griffin, but it was in a draft where Griffin was the consensus number one pick and any team with the top pick would have drafted him.

He did acquire point guard Chauncey Billups and small forward Caron Butler,  but they are players that are on the backside of their careers and were only coveted by teams that were “one move away” from an NBA championship.

Neil Olshey

Now: In 2010, Olshey picked forward Al-Farouq Aminu (No. 8)

The moves were only relevant when coupled with the Chris Paul deal, which came as a gift after Stern’s void. Other moves such as re-signing DeAndre Jordan (after he signed an offer sheet from Golden State) are a good start, but there just is not enough to convince the skeptical, especially since the Clippers were willing to part ways with him.

3). Unproven Draft Record

In the last 15 years, Portland has been one of the league’s worst teams when in comes to drafting players and the Clippers could be thrown into that mix as well despite having higher picks than Portland.

With a draft that is so vital to the team’s future success, I do not know why Portland owner Paul Allen would choose someone that does not have a sustained  history of making good picks when his team has two high ones this year.

In 2010, Olshey picked forward Al-Farouq Aminu No. 8 and guard Eric Bledsoe No. 18, and the jury is still out on both with Aminu traded to New Orleans and Bledsoe in development behind Mo Williams, Chris Paul, and company.

The team did not have a first-round pick to examine in 2011, so fans have no way of truly knowing how good he is in the draft.

In his new position, Olshey and Portland enters an off-season in rebuilding mode after a 28-38 record in 2011-12.

The newly-minted general manager will have $24 million to burn in the off-season and has four picks, two of them in the top dozen, No. 6 and No. 11, in the June draft.

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