After a strong interview with Portland Trail Blazers officials on Wednesday, Indiana Pacers general manager David Morway will meet with team owner Paul Allen on Friday to further discuss the franchise's GM job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Morway and former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower have emerged as frontrunners for the long-vacated Blazers job.
So far, they're the only two candidates to have been brought to Allen.
[Related: Blazers bust Greg Oden opens up in interview]
Blazers interim GM Chad Buchanan also remains a candidate to keep the job, sources said.
As Allen has promised an end to his free-spending days, it appears he's narrowing his focus to front-office executives with a history of constructing playoff contenders on small-market budgets. Morway, who works under Pacers president Larry Bird, has helped shape Indiana's revival. The Pacers have advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat, stocked with several talented young players drafted and developed within the organization.
Morway played a significant role in the drafting of Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, Paul George and the key offseason trade for guard George Hill.
Bower was the first candidate to meet with Allen, SI.com reported this week. Bower's Hornets reached the Western Conference semifinals in 2008, losing in a Game 7 to the San Antonio Spurs. After that season, Hornets owner George Shinn started to dramatically cut payroll and Bower was ultimately fired in 2010. In a study of pro franchise spending, Business Week magazine listed the Hornets as the seventh-"smartest spender" in the NBA over a span of 2006 -2011.
Bower was a finalist for the Toronto Raptors' GM job several months ago, losing out to Ed Stefanski. Near the end of his tenure in New Orleans, Bowers was the choice to replace Rod Thorn as Nets GM until sources say coach Avery Johnson – angry that Bower hadn't hired him as coach for the Hornets – helped crush the hiring with team ownership.
The Blazers have two potential lottery picks in the 2012 draft: their own and the Brooklyn Nets' pick, which is lottery protected through the third pick. League sources believe Allen isn't keen on another rebuilding project with the Blazers, and may push to turn those high-draft picks and other assets into a trade for an All-Star-caliber player. Portland's new GM will also have a head-coaching hire to make, a burgeoning young star (Nicolas Batum) to re-sign and possibly as much as $20 million in salary-cap space.
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