Things change quickly in the NBA. One day you're regarded as one of the brightest front office minds in the game, cleaning up a mess of a franchise and rapidly returning them to respectability, and the next you're...well this:
The Portland Trail Blazers have empowered a private headhunting firm to research and reach out to potential general manager candidates, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The use of the firm is further evidence embattled GM Kevin Pritchard has fallen out of favor with ownership and likely will be replaced before next season.
According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski's report, the Blazers have targeted at least two current NBA executives, including Thunders boy wonder Sam Presti, who will almost assuredly not leave Oklahoma City now that he has them on the cusp of becoming legit contenders.
Pritchard has been rumored to be on the outs in Portland for months now, for no real apparent reason. Sure, he did bungle the 2007 draft, passing on Kevin Durant (and as good as Greg Oden was this season before getting hurt -- again -- he was nowhere near the stratosphere Durant has already reached), but this side of Bill Simmons, few front-office folks/pundits likely would have done differently. Aside from that, Pritchard boasts a very solid track record, with a series of astute draft picks, trades and signings, and has only been undermined by decided bad luck when it comes to player injuries.
Wojnarowski reports that Pritchard's likely firing comes as a result of losing a power struggle with team president Larry Miller, who occupies a key position in the Blazers' Byzantine front-office hierarchy. Indeed, Pritchard had lost his courtside seat next to owner Paul Allen this season after being rebuffed in attempts to renegotiate a contract extension, and, per Wojnarowski, the team had tired of Pritchard's "egocentric behavior".
If the Blazers do end up letting Pritchard go some team is going to find themselves a good GM in a league where that is a rare commodity.
For more on Pritchard and all things Blazers, check out our always excellent Portland blog, Blazers Edge.