The Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey on Friday, ending the reign of one of the NBA’s longest-tenured top-level executives—and heightening the intrigue about what comes next for a franchise in tumult.
Olshey’s ouster comes on the heels of the resignation of Chris McGowan, the head of the business side of the Blazers, and four weeks after the team launched an investigation into “workplace misconduct” prompted by employee complaints about the environment at Portland’s practice facility. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the investigation began after staff members said they “have been subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics” over the past 10 years.
“He will talk to you however he wants and treat you however he wants,” a former Blazers employee told Jason Quick of The Athletic in a piece describing Olshey as “a full-time a–hole.”
The franchise on Friday declined to “release or discuss” the details of the independent inquest, but did explain that the firing was “due to violations” of the team’s code of conduct. It’s worth noting, though, that the decision also came the morning after Portland’s worst loss of the season: a 114-83 destruction at the hands of a Spurs team that entered Moda Center 6-13 and with the NBA’s no. 24 offense.
In fairness, the Blazers were without superstar centerpiece Damian Lillard, who’s out of the lineup for at least 10 days while he deals with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and lost replacement Anfernee Simons to a sprained right ankle early in the second quarter. There’s only so much grace you can extend, though: It was the Blazers’ fourth loss by 20 or more points on the season. Only the erratic Grizzlies and the no. 1 pick–chasing Magic, Pistons, and Thunder have more.