If you're frustrated with the exercise in mediocrity going on at One Center Court, I've got some good news for you. The lieutenants who work at owner Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc. mothership have been analyzing data and asking important questions. Two NBA front-office sources said they were contacted in the last 10 days by the Vulcans and asked whether they thought the Trail Blazers struggles were due to a broken roster or poor coaching. "Paul is getting antsy," one of the league sources said, "he thinks they should be winning more." Feels like another "Honk Once" or "Honk Twice" billboard opportunity for the Blazers. But what about the biggest honk? Because even as Allen is apparently growing restless, and has enlisted his team of advisors to help figure out what is wrong with his basketball franchise, I'm not optimistic they'll come up with the best answer. Because you can't fire the owner, can you? So what do you think is wrong with the Blazers? What would you say if the Vulcans called you before they reported back to Allen? You've been watching this organization spin its wheels, dumping salary and selling hope, for the last few seasons. You've seen a franchise that won 54 games in 2013-14 follow that with declining seasons of 51, 44 and 41 victories. Portland (17-16 this season) is passable and playing from the middle. But that's really all it is. Stotts is a good offensive coach who is trying to emphasize better defense lest he get fired. Watching him coach this team is like watching a guy trying to fill a bathtub with the drain plug half-pulled out. Portland is statistically improved on defense. But now the offense looks stagnant and stalled. A lot of nights the Blazers are a brutal viewing experience. But I'm not sure I blame Stotts one bit, even as I understand he's the poor patsy who has to answer for the organization on a nightly basis. His roster is busted. But I'm not sure you can blame the GM for that as much as you ought to blame the owner. So you see we're in a bit of a quandary here. Stotts' contract runs through the end of the 2020 season at $5 million a year. General manager Neil Olshey has a contract that runs through 2021. Blowing up either the coach or the GM isn't something Allen, net worth $20.7 billion, would flinch at if he thought that would change a thing. And for some added urgency here consider that the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline is Feb. 8. The NBA Board of Governors voted over the summer to move the trade deadline forward this season, in front of the All-Star Weekend. In prior seasons, Allen's lieutenants used the trade deadline as an opportunity to gauge trade value of star players. Even Brandon Roy, at the height of his game, was quietly put on the theoretical trading block by the Vulcans, who sought out Roy's trade value under Allen's orders. The Blazers eventually signed the All-Star to a long-term, maximum contract.
Owner Paul Allen investigating whether Trail Blazers’ problem is roster or coaching
Oregonian | Dec 28