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It wasn’t about money, GM Olshey chose Portland over L.A.

Jun 5, 2012, 8:46 AM EDT

Neil Olshey Getty Images

When the Clippers — with general manager Neil Olshey at the helm —acquired Chris Paul, I kept saying that the only thing that could really screw them up now was owner Donald Sterling.

With the excitement and winning on the court, we tend to think the Clippers as an organization have changed — they are an up-and-coming potential contender. Free agents want to go there now. You can see a trajectory not unlike the one the Thunder were on a couple years ago. It’s enough to have Clippers fans willfully forgetting the previous decades, whistling past the graveyard of previous failures. Now there was real hope for the future.

Yet Olshey chose to leave. When it was first announced Monday that he was leaving the Clippers to become the Trail Blazers GM it was at first speculated to be about money — Olshey was the lowest paid GM in the league last year.

But that’s not it, reports Chris Haynes at

Sources say the Trail Blazers reached out to Olshey over the weekend and offered him a three-year deal with a team option on the fourth. The Clippers were willing to match whatever the Trail Blazers threw out there, but ultimately Olshey decided to take his talents to Portland.

It was reported that Olshey worked on a month-to-month salary last season and that might have had something to do with the fact the he left even after the Clippers were willing to match.

It wasn’t the money. He decided to leave an up-and-coming contender for a team that has chewed up and spit out general managers who did good work the past few years. This was Olshey’s call, he wanted out. Maybe over control (he reportedly wanted to let Vinny Del Negro go during last season), maybe over something else.

Whatever his reasons, he should give Clippers fans pause.

Olshey was not perfect as a GM, but his mistakes (Brian Cook, maybe drafting Al-Farouq Aminu) were not expensive and not seriously damaging. His successes fit well — Caron Butler, Reggie Evans, Chauncey Billups. Take the right place, right time Chris Paul move out of the equation and he still made a lot more good moves than bad. They were moves that helped turn around an struggling organization.

And he chose to walk away. The Clippers goal now is to bring in a GM who will not let Chris Paul walk away after next season when he becomes a free agent. Blake Griffin will be up for his first contract extension this summer and any GM will offer him a max extension, and he will sign it because you always sign your first big deal. But Paul, he will get paid regardless, the Clippers need to convince him that they will keep winning.

They need someone Paul trusts will continue that Thunder trajectory. For whatever reason, Olshey chose to walk away from that job. It wasn’t about the money, it was everything else.

  1. gmsalpha - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    An NBA GM on a month-to-month contract? Wow! He might as well post the opening in the Help Wanted section of the L.A Times!

  2. blc70 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    You try to compare the Clippers to the Thunder and say players are willing to forget decades of subpar play. Are you crazy?

    The Thunder haven’t existed for decades. If you want to use the history of the time that franchise was the Seattle SuperSonics you need to check your facts. The Sonics were a very successful franchise.

  3. AlohaMrHand - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    He goes from working for Donald Sterling to working for Paul Allen……Push???

  4. shantillylilly - Jun 5, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Kurt Helin, says Portland is a team that has chewed up and spit out general managers who did good work the past few years. Hey Kurt, do you know anything about Portland? 3 executives that couldn’t make it. Only 1 of the 3 is doing the same job he did while here in Portland and the only one who is still a GM and is doing it for the worst team in the NBA and one that’s not getting better anytime soon. Hey Kurt, make sure you really know who should be getting credit for moves that have been made in Portland and all that good work you mention sure helped us win all those Championships the past few years. I sure miss those guys.

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