The Portland Trail Blazers fired Neil Olshey, the general manager and head of basketball operations, on Friday, citing “an independent review of concerns and complaints around our workplace environment at the practice facility.”
In a statement posted on social media, the Blazers did not provide further details, saying, “Out of respect for those who candidly participated in that privileged investigation, we will not release or discuss it.”
The Blazers did not immediately respond to a request from The New York Times seeking more details about the nature of the concerns and complaints that prompted Olshey’s firing.
Olshey, who also did not immediately respond to a request for comment, was hired as general manager of the Blazers in 2012 and was promoted to president of basketball operations in 2015. During his tenure, Portland made the playoffs eight straight years, but won only four playoff series.
Olshey, who grew up in Queens, began his N.B.A. career working for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003 as their director of player development. He then rose steadily through the organization until he was named vice president of basketball operations in 2010. His most noted move was acquiring the star point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011.
In July, Olshey and the Blazers were criticized for hiring Chauncey Billups, the former point guard, as Portland’s head coach because Billups had been accused of sexual assault in 1997. The organization conducted what many felt was an incomplete investigation into the allegation against Billups as part of the hiring process.
When asked about the investigation at the news conference announcing Billups’s hiring, Olshey said, “The findings of that incident corroborated Chauncey’s recollection of the events that nothing non-consensual happened. We stand by Chauncey.”
After a reporter pressed for details, Olshey called the findings “proprietary” and added, “You’re just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that ran an investigation that gave us the results we’ve already discussed.”
In early November, the Blazers announced that they were conducting a workplace investigation related to “concerns” at their practice facility but did not say who was the focus of the concerns. Multiple news reports, including from The Athletic and Yahoo Sports, cited anonymous sources who said the investigation was focused on Olshey, but a team spokesperson declined to comment when asked if it did.
In Friday’s statement about Olshey’s firing, the team said, “We are confident that these changes will help build a more positive and respectful working environment.”
The Blazers also cited unspecified “violations” of the team’s code of conduct.
Olshey’s most consequential basketball move for the Blazers was drafting Damian Lillard, now one of the N.B.A.’s biggest stars, with the sixth pick of the 2012 draft. But the franchise has struggled to put championship-level talent around Lillard, which Lillard publicly expressed frustration about over the summer.
The Blazers have tapped Joe Cronin, the team’s director of player personnel who joined the franchise as an intern in 2006, to be the interim general manager.