March 18, 2010
What in the name of Detlef Schrempf is going on in Portland? Tuesday, vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn was canned for "philosophical differences." Those differences turned out to be misrepresenting an offer he had from the Minnesota Timberwolves in order to get a raise and promotion with the Trailblazers.
Now, rumor has it that general manager par excellence Kevin Pritchard is next on the chopping block. The Oregonian's John Canzano has the scoop.
The people who work at Vulcan Inc. are busy working behind the scenes again with owner Paul Allen's basketball operation, and those following the curious firing of vice president Tom Penn this week are looking at Pritchard wondering if his shelf life as the franchise Golden Boy is expiring.
"They can't do Kevin in the middle of the season, but they can do a drive-by on someone close to him," said Warren LeGarie, the agent for Penn and Pritchard. "But guess who would be next?"
As Canzano notes, firing Pritchard would be a huge mistake. He's built a competitive young team that should only get better in the years to come. However, Penn was a rising star in the organization and he was Pritchard's number two man. If he wasn't safe, it's not hard to imagine that Pritchard has a target on his back.
Ironically, as Canzano reports, Penn did have an offer from the Timberwolves, which could mean that his firing was for something else. Something like, say, disagreeing with team owner Paul Allen during the 2007 draft, which Canzano suggests still bothers the owner.
Whatever the reason, it's a fishy situation, and it might leave a great young team without one of its biggest assets.