Report: NBA GMs Working to Create Association for Execs' Legal Aid amid Blazers Probe

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVNovember 18, 2021

The NBA logo at center court is shown during the second half of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The NBA's general managers are reportedly looking to provide more legal support for the league's executives.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported the GMs are working to form an association that would provide executives with resources such as legal defense funds and lawyer referrals. Such a group would closely resemble the NBA's coaches association.

The Portland Trail Blazers' investigation of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey did not spur the movement, although "that situation has further convinced front office executives of the need for such an association," Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Nov. 6 that Portland hired the law firm O'Melveny & Myers to conduct an independent investigation into allegations Olshey created "a toxic, hostile work environment where staff members have been subjected to intimidation and profanity-laced tirades, among other bullying tactics."

Haynes noted multiple staff members were relieved the investigation started because of what they saw as "10 years of mistreatment leading to mental and physical stress."

However, Wojnarowski and Shelburne reported Portland's decision to hire an outside law firm to conduct the investigation was seen by some executives as "a blueprint for other ownership groups to invoke firing for cause and sidestep payment on contracts" after revenues across the league decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some general managers reportedly believed the use of terms such as "toxic environment" were included to set up a situation where Portland could fire Olshey for cause.

Haynes reported Portland is expected to make a decision on Olshey's future shortly after the findings of the independent investigation are presented to team governor Jody Allen.

The Trail Blazers hired Olshey in 2012 after he previously worked for the Los Angeles Clippers.