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.
“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.