Blazer GM candidate Olshey staying with Clips -- as the laughter level rises around the league

Blazer GM candidate Olshey staying with Clips -- as the laughter level rises around the league
June 2, 2012, 3:01 am
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By DWIGHT JAYNES (@dwightjaynes)

Neil Olshey, thought by many to be the leading candidate for the vacant job as general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, has apparently decided to stay in that same post with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers' website had this announcement:

The Los Angeles Clippers announced today that an agreement in principle has been reached between the team and Vice President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey. As usual, no terms of the agreement were made public.A teleconference is planned for Monday, June 4th. Timing and access details will be announced that morning.

Olshey had been working on a month-to-month contract with the team for somewhere under 500,000 per season -- way low for that job. But Clippers owner Don Sterling is known for letting the market establish value of his employees and may have used an offer to Olshey by the Blazers as a base for a new contract for his general manager.

The announcement leaves the Trail Blazers with three candidates who have interviewed with owner Paul Allen -- former Hornets executive Jeff Bower, the 76ers' Tony DiLeo and Indiana's David Morway.

Portland has been operating without a general manager since Rich Cho was fired on May 23 of last year, just 10 months after he was hired. Chad Buchanan has been filling a position that the team has called "acting general manager."

Reaction around the NBA to the whole Blazer search has been mild amusement, which broke into open laughter Friday night when it was learned Olshey is no longer a candidate.

After a search last summer for Cho's replacement, Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen decided not to fill the position. The team's stated goal at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season was that Portland was going to seek an experienced general manager.

Names such as Donnie Walsh, Danny Ainge and Mitch Kupchak have been floating around but all deny they've even been contacted by the team.

Several people within the league have told me this week that the group of finalists is "underwhelming" or "disappointing" considering the team's stated goals. Many expected Portland to make a big splash with a well-known name. But now, with continued inaction and one candidate slipping through their fingers, the whole thing is making the organization a laughingstock.

"It's gotten to the point where it's getting hard to believe," one executive with another team told me late Friday. "Are they going to go through this draft -- with two lottery picks -- without a general manager? That would be pretty crazy."

And then he laughed.