The Portland Trail Blazers on Friday fired general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey after an investigation into workplace culture found that Olshey violated the franchise’s code of conduct.
“The Portland Trail Blazers are committed to building an organization that positively impacts our colleagues, communities and the world in which we live and play,” the team said in a statement. “Following the conclusion of the independent review of concerns and complaints around our workplace environment at the practice facility, the Portland Trail Blazers organization has decided to terminate General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, effective immediately 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.”
Blazers began an investigation into Olshey’s conduct at work last month. Yahoo Sports reports that the concerns revolved around bullying and insensitive tirades, as well as intimidation.
Joe Cronin, the assistant GM was elevated to interim GM and the team stated that it would conduct an investigation for a permanent replacement. A possible replacement has been suggested by Danny Ainge, a former Boston Celtics executive who also played for the Blazers two seasons.
Olshey joined the Blazers, from the Los Angeles Clippers, as general manager in 2012 and drafted Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the team’s cornerstone players.
With an 11-12 record, the Blazers made it to the playoffs eight times in a row, and reached the Western Conference finals this year. But they have lost in the first round in four of the past five seasons, and Lillard expressed his desire to play for a team that can compete for a championship. Lillard was feared to ask for a deal.
In the offseason, Olshey fired Terry Stotts and hired Chauncey Billups, a decision that was unpopular with the fanbase given Billups’ connection to sexual assault allegations from 1997 when Billups played in the NBA.
Olshey dismissed those concerns in a tone-deaf news conference to introduce Billups in which he declined to reveal many details from the team’s investigation into Billups.
“You’re just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that led us to the results we already discussed,” Olshey said.