Blazers look into hiring new GM

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.

At least two current NBA front-office executives have been targeted, sources confirmed, and the firm has also made several fact-finding calls about Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti.

Pritchard lost a power struggle with Blazers president Larry Miller. His top ally and assistant GM Tom Penn was fired late in the season. Pritchard had sought a contract extension last year only to be rebuffed. AOL Fanhouse reported Pritchard’s courtside seat next to owner Paul Allen had been taken away this season.

Ownership has refused to give Pritchard a public show of support, and multiple sources say Vulcan Inc., which oversees the Blazers, had become fed up with Pritchard’s egocentric behavior.

Sources say some potential candidates are uneasy about the ownership dynamic in Portland. Vulcan Inc. has a history of meddlesome behavior, and some established NBA front-office executives are hesitant over a structure where they fear they’ll have little chance to establish and carry out their own philosophies and organizational framework. With Miller and popular coach Nate McMillan, the Blazers have two powerful and entrenched figures firmly in place.

Nevertheless, this is still a largely appealing job because of the solid state of the franchise’s talent base and a motivated and wealthy ownership group. Pritchard is still preparing for the June draft and making cursory calls on potential trades. Agents dealing with him say he’s toned down his verbiage, no longer making bold proclamations about his ability to buy draft picks and move up to snare their clients. It’s clear he can do little, if anything, without the approval of his superiors.


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Updated Saturday, Jun 5, 2010