Blazers still searching for a GM

PORTLAND — Now that NBA owners and players have reached a tentative labor agreement, the Portland Trail Blazers need to resume their search for a general manager.

If the lockout-ending deal struck early Saturday in New York is formally approved by both sides, the league will play a 66-game season beginning Dec 25. Training camps and free agency would open on Dec. 9.

"Glad to be back!" Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the team's player representative, tweeted Saturday morning.

When it appeared that the lockout was dragging on, The Oregonian newspaper cited a source that said the team had suspended the search for a new GM to replace Rich Cho, who had served less than a year on the job when he was abruptly dismissed in May.

College scouting director Chad Buchanan was named interim general manager and he led a team of front-office staff in conducting the team's draft in June. However, he has been ruled out as Cho's permanent successor.

The Blazers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

With the opening of free agency, the Blazers should also get a better idea of center Greg Oden's future with the team. Portland offered the former No. 1 draft pick an $8.8 million qualifying offer to stay in Portland back on June 29.

That means the often-injured 7-foot center is a restricted free agent. The Blazers can match any offers that other teams make for him.

The 23-year-old Oden didn't play last season after microfracture surgery on his left knee. He missed his rookie season in 2007-08 after microfracture surgery on his right knee. Two seasons ago he broke his left kneecap.

Because of his injuries, the former Ohio State star has played in only 82 games over parts of two seasons, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds.

But before anything can be done from a personnel standpoint, a majority on each side must approve the labor agreement. The NBA, which owns the New Orleans Hornets, needs votes from 15 of 29 owners, while the union needs a simple majority of its 430-plus members.

That process became a bit more complicated after the players dissolved the union Nov. 14. Now, they must drop their antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota and reform the union before voting on the deal.

Because the union disbanded, a new collective bargaining agreement can only be completed once the union has reformed. Drug testing and other issues still must be negotiated between the players and the league, which also must drop the lawsuit it filed in New York.

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