Portland Trail Blazers: Neil Olshey’s time may be up, but the damage is done

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The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a thorough investigation into Neil Olshey and allegations of him creating a hostile work environment for his peers and employees.

While this is groundbreaking news — albeit, not exactly surprising — it’s starting to get overshadowed by the actual basketball product that the organization has been putting out. Portland has now lost five of their last seven games and remain one of the two teams still winless on the road — the other being a rebuilding Houston Rockets team.

As new co-signers seemingly pile on ammunition against Olshey with each passing day, it grows increasingly unlikely that the longtime general manager will survive this investigation. Even if the Portland Trail Blazers part ways with Olshey, there will be stains he’s left that might not be so easily removed.

Portland Trail Blazers, Neil Olshey, Damian Lillard

Portland Trail Blazers, Neil Olshey, Damian Lillard (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Will it be too late when the Portland Trail Blazers get rid of General Manager Neil Olshey?

Neil Olshey has his fingerprints all over this organization now. A handpicked roster, his preferred new coach holding the reins, and a financial situation that will prove difficult for his successor to navigate.

If and when the Portland Trail Blazers end their relationship with their general manager, another season could be lost by then.

Will new Head Coach Chauncey Billups prove to be worth it?

Chauncey Billups looks like a rookie head coach and is experiencing many of the usual problems that come with taking over a tenured squad: difficulty motivating, inconsistent effort from the players, and questionable rotation and time management among other things.

No one really expected him to come in and turn the Blazers into instant title contenders a la Steve Kerr, but these usual early struggles are only magnified with the team’s history of continued disappointment, crushing championship aspirations, and of course, Billups’s questionable past.

When it’s all said-and-done, if Billups turns out to be another mediocre coach in a long line of subpar NBA play callers, it will be hard not to remember the risks that came alongside his hiring.

At this point in time, it’s impossible to conclusively determine whether Billups is guilty or not guilty of his sexual assault allegations, a case that happened over a decade ago and was settled privately. Regardless, passing on good candidates for a morally questionable, first-time head coach that turns out to be a flop will forever be a glaring red flag on Olshey’s resume — but NBA owners have forgiven much worse before and will likely do so again.

Once the investigation is concluded, and if Olshey is fired, how many games will we be into the season? Even if it’s only a quarter of the way through, just two weeks from now, the Blazers could find themselves barely treading water at that point or even sunk to the trenches of the Western Conference. By that juncture, it may be far too late to restart the coaching search and try to save the season, lest the Blazers have a Nate McMillan-level replacement already waiting in the wings.

We’ve seen how hard it’s been for Portland to instill the systematic changes that Billups brought in. It will be exponentially tougher for the team to unlearn those adjustments and start from scratch.

Even if they bring in a savant, the pieces that Olshey has brought in might be an insurmountable puzzle to solve.

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