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Portland Trail Blazers chief of basketball operations Neil Olshey is being investigated by the team for alleged workplace misconduct, and NBA general managers have decided to form a group to protect their own in these types of situations, per an ESPN report.
Basically, GMs fear that team owners are looking for a way out of contracts, given that attendance and overall interest in the league — and therefore, revenue — have dwindled recently.
Olshey has been accused of creating a “toxic” and “hostile” work environment, and the Blazers have hired an investigation firm to conduct interviews to look into the matter. But based on interviews conducted by the Oregonian, it really sounds like Olshey has just been demanding, and yes, a bit of a jerk.
But is that truly a fireable offense?
“Terms reported by the media like ‘toxic environment’ and ‘hostile workplace’ felt to rival GMs as a campaign to trigger a firing for ’cause,’ presumably a tactic to set up the voiding of the remaining years and salary on Olshey’s contract,” ESPN reported. “That’s what worries rival executives and has hastened the urgency of finalizing an association that could help support front-office executives in situations like the one unfolding in Portland.”
With all that in mind, GMs have decided to push forward with the pre-Blazers-investigation idea of forming their own association to protect their own, similar to the NBA Coaches Association that has existed for some time.
“The Blazers haven’t suspended Olshey while the investigation is ongoing, and he’s continued to carry out his duties running the team,” ESPN wrote. “Once the Blazers elevated the HR complaint to the hiring of an outside firm, the leaguewide belief has been that Olshey’s job and contract are in jeopardy.”
The Blazers have reached the playoffs eight straight times under Olshey, who has been the team’s GM since 2012. So it took almost a decade for anyone to complain about him to the point where the Blazers felt the need to look into it.
A GM association will make sure everything involving the investigation is on the up-and-up, and not just done so the organization can cut costs.
Follow Sam Amico: @AmicoHoops