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Friday , Apr , 20 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Sources: Mitch Kupchak to interview with Blazers

Kupchak is one of the Blazers' top targets in their quest to land an executive with experience running a franchise's basketball operations, sources told ESPN.com.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Mitch Kupchak, things are weird with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The owner’s son, Jim Buss, is your boss despite having no experience as a basketball executive. The superstar, Kobe Bryant, is a raging Alpha Male who can’t accept that the team is better with Andrew Bynum as the top option. Speaking of Bynum, his lack of maturity is obvious.

And we haven’t even mentioned Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes, coach Mike Brown‘s offense, the press, or the rapid fan base that demand a championship every year.

Still, the Lakers quirks are nothing when compared to the mayhem of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers lost two of their top three players, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, to injury. Long-time coach Nate McMillan was recently fired. The club is starting over.

Sadly, the on-court mess wouldn’t be the biggest challenge. That would be eccentric owner Paul Allen.

Remember, Allen fired executive Kevin Pritchard moments before the draft and casually told his former executive to stick around for the team's pick. The club spent months searching for Pritchard’s replacement. They supposedly had their man in Richie Cho, but fired him a year later for being too quiet.

There's a reason the Blazers haven't hired a replacement: no decent executive will take the gig. They don't want the mess, melodrama, and headache.

So Mitch, stick with the Lakers. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

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Sunday , Sep , 04 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Portland interested in Chris Mullin for GM?

Blazers president Larry Miller has expressed a strong interest in former Golden State Warriors GM Chris Mullin, sources said. Mullin’s expected to talk with the Blazers too, sources said.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call:
Chris Mullin’s career as an executive hasn’t been normal.

The sharpshooter revitalized the Golden State Warriors before getting stabbed in the back by Don Nelson, his former coach and the man he rescued from the sideline boss scrap heap.

Then Mullin was tabbed to take over the executive chair in New York from Donnie Walsh before dysfunctional owner James Dolan stepped-in. Walsh is out; Mullin won’t be leading the Knicks.

Now he’s linked to the Portland Trail Blazers, the organization that fired GM Kevin Pritchard moments before the 2010 NBA draft only to invite him to stay for the evening's festivities.

Pritchard’s replacement, Richie Cho, was pink-slipped after being on the job for less than a year. Cho was seen as too docile, low-key, and quiet.

Perhaps Mullin should pass on the Blazers‘ gig. Right now, they’re dysfunctional, and owner Paul Allen seems determined to meddle.

Life may be a little more normal in ESPN’s broadcast booth.

--Oly Sandor.

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Saturday , May , 28 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Blazers want Brandon Roy to retire?

A source familiar with the situation said Thursday that Portland figures it must deal with Brandon Roy's future if it's truly going to rejoin the league's contenders. Retirement for Roy is among the options they're considering.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It seems premature.

Not long ago, Brandon Roy was the face of the Portland Trail Blazers. He was an All-Star. He was a terrific scorer. And he was a role model in the community.

Roy, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, seemed a blessing for a basketball mad city that suffered through the ‘Jail Blazers’.

All appeared good. So the Blazers handed Roy the keys to the Rose Garden, signing him to a six- year deal for maximum money.

The good times didn’t last, though.

Roy’s knee injuries became serious. He missed significant time. When he returned his game changed. He was a part-time player earning a star’s salary.

Coach Nate McMillan gave Roy’s minutes to others and the situation became a national crisis when the two-guard spoke out publicly during the playoffs. 

The scandal inspired Roy. His play improved. And he single-handedly won a playoff game for the Blazers by dropping 16 points in the fourth quarter on the Dallas Mavericks.

When healthy, Roy can still play. This may not be enough for the Blazers. 

Bottom line: the Blazers have a choice. They can hope Roy’s play justifies the remaining four-years and $68 million on his contract.

Or, they can do some research and search for an escape clause, which would mean buying Roy out or pushing retirement.

This is risky. Suppose the Blazers approach Roy about ending their relationship. Once the process begins, there’s no turning back. Things could get ugly.

Who would contact Roy about a buyout? And who would negotiate the terms of this buyout?

After all, owner Paul Allen fired Richie Cho –even though, he hired him less than a year ago- because he didn’t feel chemistry with the GM.

There’s no timeline to hire a new front office Tsar. And no self-respecting executive would take the gig knowing they had to deal with Allen’s meddling and buyout Roy.

The Blazers should step back and think carefully before initiating discussions with Roy. This has the potential to end badly.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , May , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Blazers again look foolish firing GM Richie Cho after 10 months

The Portland Trail Blazers have dismissed general manager Rich Cho after less than a year on the job. A statement released by the Blazers said the team and Cho had "parted ways." Chad Buchanan, the team's director of college scouting, will serve as acting general manager.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: I’m not suggesting the two are connected. I’m suggesting the timing is, well, 'interesting'.

Yesterday, an anonymous source within the Portland Trail Blazers informed reporters that GM Richie Cho wanted to suspend Brandon Roy during the first round for complaining about his minutes.
 
Anyway, Cho is gone. He’s history. The Blazers just announced they parted ways with the young executive, saying he wasn’t a ‘fit’ for the organization.
 
Wasn't this the guy owner Paul Allen hand selected just ten months ago? Wasn't this the up-and-coming basketball genius, who was going to take the Blazers to the next level?
 
Apparently not.
 
The decision to fire Cho is a shock, as he held the job for less than a year. Cho, of course, replaced Kevin Pritchard, who was fired moments before the 2010 draft, but invited to hang out for the team’s picks by Allen.
 
The Pritchard affair caused a stir around the league. The Blazers looked unprofessional. Firing Cho doesn`t help. 
 
Right now, there are few answers. However, the city’s talented beat writers –those who cover the team on a day-to-day basis- will soon have details.
 
There’s one obvious conclusion: no star executive takes the gig after Allen`s treatment of Cho and Pritchard. Whoever the Blazers hire will be cautious, especially with an employer who leaks damaging information about an employee before firing him.    
 
This is not a suggestion, but a fact.

--Oly Sandor.

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Monday , May , 23 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Portland GM Richie Cho wanted to suspend Brandon Roy

According to a well-placed source in the Blazers organization, an irritated Cho pushed for a suspension of three-time All-Star Brandon Roy for comments the guard made after Game 2 of Portland's eventual first-round playoff series loss to Dallas.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The Portland Trail Blazers have two problems.

First, GM Richie Cho and Brandon Roy must have a sit-down to discuss reports Cho wanted to suspend Roy after he spoke out about his reduced role.
 
Roy struggled last season with injuries. The former All-Star missed a stretch of games and, as a result, his minutes were drastically cut.
 
But Roy’s play improved after he went public with his complaints. He could easily regain his star status. And fans supported him.
 
A showdown between Cho, the young GM, and Roy, the franchise face, is looming. 
 
These two must have a heart-to-heart to air things out. After all, neither is leaving. Cho is an up-and-coming executive, while Roy, when healthy, is a talented player with a long-term max’ contract.
 
Following their chat, Cho and Roy should issue a carefully crafted statement and agree to never address the issue again. This must happen or hard feelings will linger.
 
Second, they have a leak. Management must plug the leak or they’ll continue being undermined by an employee going public. Trust will be an issue in the work place.
 
Remember, Portland, while beautiful, is a smaller market. The team is a big deal. And local media will continue exploiting this source.
 
So Cho and Roy must settle their differences. Then the club has to settle their issues in the front office.
 
--Oly Sandor.
 
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Thursday , Feb , 03 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Andre Miller believes ‘there’s chance’ he’ll get traded

"I don't really care, really,'' Miller said when asked in a FanHouse interview Wednesday whether his hope now is to remain in Portland rather than be traded. "You know what I'm saying? I would like to stay put, but it's a business and anything can happen.''

When asked if he believes there's a decent chance he'll be moved by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, Miller said, "Yeah. Yeah.'' "There's a chance,'' Miller said. "A lot of guys can get moved. Where? I don't know. At this point, hopefully it's not a team that's rebuilding. I wouldn't want to go back to like a Philly situation.''

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Yes, there's a chance Andre Miller could be traded before the February trade deadline.

Miller can still effectively handle the one-spot; he has a flexible contract, as the team holds an option on the 2012 season; and his current team, the Trail Blazers, could well go into rebuild move and auction off him and fellow vet’ Marcus Camby.

Just don’t expect Executive Richie Cho to wrap Miller in a bow and give him away. Portland’s new head suit has proven to be one cool, calm customer.

For instance, Cho refused to be bullied into trading Rudy Fernandez. He ignored Fernandez’s whining about playing time. He also ignored Fernandez’s agent, who also whined about, well, everything to the press.

Most importantly, he shrugged off Rip City nation, who called for Fernandez to immediately be banished back to Europe.

Cho has patiently waited for a deal that makes sense. In the meantime, Fernandez has started to perform and recently withdrew his trade demand.

Suddenly, Cho and Portland have the upper hand. They can keep Fernandez or trade him when they get an offer to their liking.

The same will happen with Miller. Cho will send the power point guard packing if he can get a contender to give up a blue-chip prospect and/or a draft pick.

Miller, however, could stay with Portland. After all, Cho is in the driver seat – the team can decide to exercise the option on the final year of his contract or cut him loose in July.

Bottom line: Miller’s immediate future is unknown. Whatever happens will be in the best interests of the Blazers, and not the player.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Jan , 16 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Will Rudy Fernandez and Patrick Mills’ Portland ‘Bromance’ survive trade deadline?

"Your agent," I said to Fernandez as I asked him about the news, "is poco loco, no?"

Fernandez laughed and said, "Yes, he can be. Thank you for asking me."  Then, he explained, "I want to be here. I'm having fun. I bought a home. I bought a car. I don't know what else I can do to prove I want to be here.

"I'm playing now, too." Mills leaned in and said: "I think he should leave." They cracked up, laughing, together. Fernandez wants to stay. He's happy. Which likely means he'll promptly be traded. Sports can be cruel like that. But as long as he's around, it's probably worth pointing out that Mills feels like the biggest reason Fernandez is finally comfortable again.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s a blossoming ‘bromance’ (a bromance is a plutonic friendship between grown men).

Word is controversial Portland Trail Blazer Rudy Fernandez is now happy in Rip City, in large part, because of his friendship with reserve guard Patrick Mills.

These two hang at home in Portland. These two hang on the road. These two are tight.

In fact, the Fernandez-Mills ‘Bromance’ is apparently the main reason the Spanish swing has rescinded his trade demand and settled in Portland.

But the Trail Blazers are in transition. Franchise face Brandon Roy is having surgery on both knees and may never be the same player. Former first overall pick Greg Oden hasn’t played a game and his future is unknown.

The Trail Blazers, even with the injuries, could still secure the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. However, management may decide to rebuild and deal veterans Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, and Joel Pryzbilla at the trade deadline.

Fernandez could be part of the changes. Sure, he’s a strong shooter and exciting open court player. He’s also prone to extreme mood swings, and GM Richie Cho may feel it’s time to cut ties.

The Fernandez-Mills ‘bromance’ would then become a long-distance relationship.

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Sep , 14 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Portland close to moving Rudy Fernandez?

Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune writes that the Trail Blazers may be getting closer to trading swingman Rudy Fernandez. Portland general manager Rich Cho is working to accommodate Fernandez's trade request behind the scenes."The first-year GM has some options, and I'm getting the feeling he might pull the trigger on something before camp," Eggers wrote.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Both sides need closure –and the sooner, the better.

For months, Rudy Fernandez and the Portland Trail Blazers have been at odds on how to part ways. Fernandez wants a trade to a team where he’ll get minutes, touches, and shots.

The Blazers also want to trade Fernandez. They, however, won’t give him away. And they want equal value for such an accurate shooter and athletic swing.

Unfortunately, Fernandez has been his own worst enemy. He has put the Blazers in an impossible situation by publicly lobbying for a trade. Teams have been low-balling GM Richie Cho, offering nothing near equal value.

But Cho has been patient. He hasn’t panicked. And according to Eggers, a deal is close to materializing. Perhaps potential suitors have improved their offers.

Something must happen because this tiff is beyond ugly. Hopefully, the Blazers get ‘fair compensation, so they and Fernandez finally move on.   

--Oly Sandor.

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