The Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager Rich Cho on Monday just 10 months after hiring him to take over for Kevin Pritchard. Cho, who worked for the Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma City Thunder before being hired by the Blazers last July, didn't get to participate in Portland's 2010 NBA Draft preparations, missed the juicy part of free agency and had just one trade deadline to run the war room. (He came away with Gerald Wallace in the season's third-best move at worst.)
Now the tough decision comes for Portland: will the team rely on Chad Buchanan, the director of college scouting, to run the draft? (The team made Buchanan the interim GM on Monday.) Or will the Blazers rush to hire a new general manager in advance of the June 23 draft?
The Blazers have the No. 21 in the draft, but more than that, draft day itself has historically been one of the most active trade days of the year for the NBA. Portland has been a huge part of that, and has tons of moving parts going forward. The fact that teams may be looking to offload high-salary players -- even stars -- before a new collective bargaining agreement is hammered out, and given that Blazers owner Paul Allen has not been shy about trucking millions of dollars in excess salary to acquire extra picks and good players, that makes for a volatile situation.
Buchanan has obviously been involved in drafts throughout his tenure, and knows the prospects well. But this is a huge summer for Portland, and it begins on draft day. Will the Blazers be content to let it pass by without an undisputed leader in the war room?
Of course, the suggestion from many quarters would be that Larry Miller, Allen's conduit to the basketball side, is already the undisputed leader of the war room, and that Cho was fired because he dared to upset that balance. In that case, why bother with the puppet? Just let Allen's team make the calls they would be making otherwise.