Swoosh: Miller leaves Blazers

Team president departs to returnto role with Nike

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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For five years, Larry Miller watched a bevy of Trail Blazer executives depart from the organization. Saturday, he was the one doing the leaving.

After serving as the team's president for five years, Miller resigned to return to Jordan Brand, a Nike affiliate, where he was president before coming to the Blazers.

General manager Neil Olshey will head up basketball operations, while chief operating officer Sarah Mensah will lead business operations. A search for Miller's replacement, the Blazers said, will begin immediately.

"The timing is right," said Miller in a press release. "We have an excellent general manager in place in Neil Olshey, so I feel the team is on solid ground and headed in the right direction. Off the court, business is great. The Rose Garden is packed every night and the passion of Trail Blazers fans has never been better."

But Miller's public stance may differ from his true line of thinking. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, there had been speculation that Miller would soon be on his way out once Olshey was hired. Given how former GM Kevin Pritchard's tenure in Portland ended contentiously, as did former assistant GM Tom Penn's, Berger said that Miller was weary of once again dealing with Olshey's agent Warren LeGarie, who represented Pritchard and Penn.

Olshey, who had a successful run with the Clippers, was favored by Paul Allen advisor Bert Kolde during the interview process, sources say. Once the hiring process had been taken out of Miller's hands, it was only a matter of time before he stepped down.

As a result of the revolving door of executives, Miller spent more time in front of the media than he had expected and rarely got to do so under pleasant circumstances.

In addition to Pritchard's ouster, Miller also was president when Rich Cho was unexpectedly fired as GM in May 2011, despite having improved the team while spending less than a year on the job. For the 13 months that followed, the prevailing question Miller fielded was "when will you hire the next GM?" a query he was left to diffuse as Allen was unavailable to reporters.

Said Allen of Miller's resignation: "It is sad to see Larry leaving the Blazers and I want to thank him for his leadership and contributions to the franchise. Larry helped manage a period of significant growth and I wish him all the best as he takes on this opportunity."

Under Miller's leadership, the Trail Blazers made three consecutive trips to the postseason from 2009-11 for the first time since 2001-03. The Trail Blazers won 54 games and shared the Northwest Division crown in 2008-09, the team's first division title since 1998-99.