Blazer question machine is still full
OK, after this week's big news conference, let's take stock of what we know about the new leadership of the Portland Trail Blazers.
•ÊSteve Patterson is the president of the team.
•ÊPatterson, by all accounts, is a good man. A competent man.
•ÊHe'll be running the financial side of the Blazers and their associated companies. We can assume he'll do a pretty good job of that. We also know he's an experienced basketball man.
•ÊHe's going to take part in hiring the new general manager.
But what about all the things we don't know about the new leadership of the Blazers?
•ÊWe don't know who is going to end up as the general manager, although the position may be filled soon Ñ perhaps even before Thursday's NBA draft.
•ÊWe don't know how much authority that new GM will have. Will he run things as he sees fit? Will he have to have Patterson's consent on all deals? Obviously, owner Paul Allen will sign off on any major player moves, but who else will? Some committee from Vulcan, Allen's umbrella company? People from Vulcan actually participated in the interview process with Patterson.
•ÊWhile Patterson is whispering in Allen's right ear, will Bob Whitsitt be whispering in his left ear?
•ÊWill the new general manager report directly to Allen, to Patterson, to Vice Chairman Bert Kolde or to someone else? When pressed, Allen acknowledged that this hasn't been decided yet. It depends on who they hire to be the GM. Hmm. That's interesting. If he's a guy in enough demand elsewhere to dictate terms of his hiring, can he demand full authority on personnel matters? Or are they going to hire someone so happy to get the title of 'general manager' that he's going to go along with whatever Patterson, Allen, Kolde, Whitsitt or Maurice Cheeks tells him?
It's an interesting sidebar to this headhunting that the Blazers originally said the general manager would be hired first and be most important, but even now we don't know how important that GM role will be.
• Will the real duties of the president and/or the general manager be to slash the team's gigantic payroll? Allen grudgingly conceded that last year's $105 million payroll was too high. But at the same time, remaking this team, staying competitive and cutting salary is going to be a very difficult task.
•ÊWhat will be Patterson's toughest assignment? I believe it will be the one just mentioned Ñ cutting salary, remaking the team's roster, reconnecting the Blazer brand to the community, all the while trying to sell tickets to see a team that's very likely not going to be as talented as we're accustomed to seeing. I do not envy him that daunting job.