Trail Blazers fire GM Neil Olshey after investigation into alleged toxic workplace

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The Portland Trail Blazers fired president of basketball operations and general manager Neil Olshey after an investigation into allegations that he created a toxic workplace, the organization announced Friday.

A few members of the organization were informed of the decision Thursday night after a 31-point trouncing by the San Antonio Spurs, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Joe Cronin was elevated to interim GM, and the Trail Blazers will conduct a search for a permanent replacement, the team said.

Two strong executives expected to be considered for the vacancy are Chicago Bulls general manager Marc Eversley and New York Knicks general manager Scott Perry, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Both are basketball mavens who have been instrumental in building playoff-caliber teams, and each possesses vast relationships with players around the league.

Olshey had been with the Trail Blazers since 2012.

Portland released this statement:

"The Portland Trail Blazers are committed to building an organization that positively impacts our colleagues, communities and the world in which we live and play. Following the conclusion of the independent review of concerns and complaints around our workplace environment at the practice facility, the Portland Trail Blazers organization has decided to terminate General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, effective immediately due to violations of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Code of Conduct. Out of respect for those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it. We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment. Joe Cronin has been promoted to interim General Manager while the organization’s leadership conducts a search for a permanent replacement."

Neil Olshey, with a face mask down below his chin, looks on.
The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey, the president of basketball operations and general manager, on Friday after a monthlong investigation into claims he created a toxic and hostile work environment. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Neil Olshey accused of bullying, intimidation

The Trail Blazers opened an investigation into Olshey in early November with employees alleging a toxic, hostile work environment in which staff members were allegedly subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The organization enlisted the services of O’Melveny & Myers to run the independent investigation, and the firm interviewed employees, including current and former players and employees outside of personnel, at the practice facility. The investigation was originally expected to last only a few days, but was extended and lasted nearly a month.

Over Olshey's decade as the top basketball decision-maker, multiple employees asserted they had grievances with his treatment of staff in the workplace, sources said.

Olshey allegedly subjected staffers to profanity-laced tirades, including former head coach Terry Stotts while Olshey sat courtside during home games, which routinely caught the attention of Blazers players.

In October 2017, late team owner Paul Allen banned Olshey from watching the game inside the arena bowl after Olshey flipped off an individual from the Los Angeles Clippers after Blake Griffin nailed a game-winning 3-pointer, sources said. The incident was caught on television.

President of business operations resigned during investigation

Chris McGowan, the president of business operations and CEO of the organization since 2012, announced his resignation last month.

McGowan was hired by the Trail Blazers in October 2012, five months after Olshey was hired.

McGowan informed the Trail Blazers' ownership group of his decision to step down on Nov. 1, before an independent investigation was launched into Olshey.

McGowan said his decision was unrelated to the investigation, citing the ability to seek other employment opportunities after nine-plus years with the Trail Blazers.

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