Wojnarowski says Pritchard's job in jeopardy

I’ve been trying to ignore the fallout of the Tom Penn firing as much as possible. There’s been a lot of agent speak and a lot of “Who did what with the candlestick in the conservatory?” Penn’s agent Warren LeGarie, whom he shares with Kevin Pritchard, has gone after the Blazers hard, many say in an effort to secure Pritchard a long-term contract with the team, or to begin building him a foothold elsewhere.

But there’s no ignoring it now, not after Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski dropped this face-melting story quoting multiple sources with details of Pritchard’s current crossroads. For starters:

Vulcan, the Blazers’ parent company, had watched Pritchard embark upon several selfish and destructive bents, and strong sentiment existed to fire him. Owner Paul Allen and the Vulcan executives no longer trusted him to put the franchise before his own ambitions. The list of transgressions that troubled Vulcan always came back to similar themes: Pritchard’s thirst for public adulation, money and power.

Inside and outside the organization, Pritchard harped on how much more Portland coach Nate McMillan made than him. He complained to friends, rivals and relative acquaintances, and that played an immense part in the gulf that exists between the front office and coach.

And later:

“Kevin was in a constant battle to position himself to get credit away from Nate for whatever success they were eventually going to have there,” one NBA executive friendly with both said. “Nate knows enough not to flap his gums and pound his chest – especially when your team hasn’t even won a playoff series yet. He’s secure in himself, in a way that Pritchard never knew how to be.

“If Kevin just kept his mouth shut, cut out all the arrogance and insecurity, I think he probably would’ve had his extension a long time ago.”

Given Wojnarowski’s historically unkind disposition toward Pritchard, it’s tempting to write all this off as a collection of quotes from sources who either want Pritchard’s job or simply don’t like the way he has done his business. But we cannot do that. If Pritchard really has been complaining to anyone who will listen about his lack of a payday — though Woj could be exaggerating about how often this happened, given how hard the adjectives and verbs he used about KP are — then that just isn’t a good business practice, not when you are trying to secure a long-term relationship with a team.

However it may happen, someone needs to put an end to this. We need to hear from Pritchard or Paul Allen now. Larry Miller won’t be enough. Whether five percent of Wojnarowski’s story carries weight or 90 percent, the implications have gotten too serious.

I’m sure many Blazer fans still support Pritchard for the work he has done rebuilding the team, and I’m with them. I could care less how brash or arrogant a person is, as long as they are getting the job done and being honest with me. His track record isn’t spotless, but it’s still a good one, and more importantly Pritchard has shown an open mind to differing opinions, if also a strong attachment to his own draft picks. Losing Pritchard is unnecessary, and all of this drama reeks of the type of thing that would have gone on earlier in the decade, during the reigns of Bob Whitsitt/Steve Patterson/John Nash.

It’s not only saddening that we have to go through this at this point in the season, but that we have to go through it at all. I hope many of you will join me in hoping that this will get resolved in a timely matter and we can all return to basketball.

Tags: Adrian Wojnarowski Blazers Kevin Pritchard Paul Allen Portland Tom Penn Yahoo! Sports

  • http://www.couriernewculture.blogspot.com Travis

    Wojnarowski is a blowhard, just as egotistical and attention-starved as he claims KP to be. I had a long back and forth Twitter DM conversation with him a couple of months ago after I blasted him for his constant (career-dependent) use of anonymous sources, and he simply didn’t understand how or why it’s bad journalism.

    Might there be tension between KP and Miller and Nate and Allen’s group? Of course, looks like there is to some degree, but we didn’t need Wojnarowski to write an essentially anonymous smear column to figure that out. This guy is nothing more than a blow hard. I’ll be interested if real news breaks (likely via real journalists, like Brian Smith at the Columbian).

  • http://ripcityproject.com Coup

    You know, Travis, I was just about to send you a message on Twitter asking how many letters of praise you were sending to Woj today…

    It’s not like we didn’t know KP enjoyed the limelight and praise. He certainly holds enough candid media sessions. I’ve never faulted him for this.

    What was interesting about Woj’s piece is a LOT of the source-based information was about stuff that had little to do with the events surrounding Penn’s actual firing, like he had been sitting on a lot of things people had told him and waited for a time to use it. He certainly puts in his work and could have just been gathering info over the last couple of days, but the timeline seems strange. Would he have written this column if LeGarie hadn’t gotten the ball rolling for him?

  • http://www.couriernewculture.blogspot.com Travis

    Yeah, good points, Coup. I think Woj has a running list of notes on KP, going back prior to that piece on the Miles e-mail, and he was sitting on them until the right moment. He even put off releasing this column until Monday after it was leaked (was it the Oregonian?) that he was going to rip KP last Thursday.

    Woj uses anonymous sources to develop baseless claims like this: “So far, McMillan has been unwilling to sign a contract extension past the 2011 season, but that would likely change with Pritchard out of the picture.” It’s easy for Woj to make that kind of statement because it’s technically his opinion, and he uses “likely,” but it comes after a long-developed sourceless argument that rips KP and puts Nate under the light of gods.

    I’ll say this: KP isn’t my kind of GM necessarily, never has been, but he’s done some good things. He’s made a couple of mistakes, too. (Oden is not one of those mistakes, I maintain.) I’m sure people said the things they said in Woj’s column, but we know that people around the league don’t really like KP. It’s easy to lie when your name isn’t attached to it. And if you don’t like a person, or you want his job, then the benefits outweigh the risks in a league full of people trying to climb ladders.

    Having never liked KP, Woj saw the Penn firing as a great opportunity to pile all the information he had on KP together for this piece. You said it well: the article could be 5% legit, or 90% legit, but there’s no way to know, and given Woj’s track record on the subject of KP, and his lack journalistic ethics, I’m inclined to lean toward 5%. Frustrating. We just knew Wojnarowski was pacing around the yard like a rabid dog these last few days. A small dog, at that.

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