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Blazers' Damian Lillard Focused on Team amid Neil Olshey Probe: 'The Games Continue'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVNovember 7, 2021

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard wants to focus on basketball even as president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is investigated.

"It was news to me," Lillard told reporters after Saturday's 105-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. "... I came across it just as everybody else did, but that's all I know of it, that it's an investigation. … I think the best way to lead is to focus on leading the team. … The games continue. Our jobs continue."

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported Saturday that the Trail Blazers hired O'Melveny & Myers to investigate allegations Olshey created a "toxic, hostile work environment where staff members have been subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics."

Head coach Chauncey Billups echoed Lillard's sentiment when he said, "You know, it's a distraction because there's so much talk about it, obviously," per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "But I can honestly say when I'm in that office and with the guys, I don't think about that at all. Not even for a little bit. I'm focused on the game."

Portland hired Olshey, who was previously the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, in 2012.

Among the moves he was involved with was the decision to select Lillard out of Weber State with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft.

Haynes reported a decision on Olshey's future will be made after the findings of the investigation are given to team governor Jody Allen, although numerous employees showed "relief because of the investigation after 10 years of mistreatment leading to mental and physical stress."

The team released a statement:        

Portland Trail Blazers @trailblazers

<a href="https://t.co/p8jcMpCBOc">pic.twitter.com/p8jcMpCBOc</a>

On the court, Portland is off to a 5-5 start. Its victory over the Lakers extended its winning streak to two following a three-game losing streak against all-Eastern Conference foes.

Lillard is shooting just 35.1 percent from the field and 24.7 percent from three-point range during the small sample size, which would both be career-worst marks.         

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