Blazers will take time in finding a new GM

PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers say they'll take their time in finding a new general manager after team owner Paul Allen failed to connect with Rich Cho in his 10 months on the job.

In the meantime, college scouting director Chad Buchanan will serve as interim GM and will partner with the Blazers' collective front office, including Allen, to conduct the team's upcoming NBA draft and make a looming decision about center Greg Oden.

Buchanan said his job will not change very much because he already takes an active role in the draft along with Michael Born, the team's director of NBA scouting.

"We spend a lot of time during the year preparing for the draft, and we've got a pretty good handle on it," Buchanan said. "There are some other things going on that will be off of Rich's plate and onto ours, but I really feel confident in our group and our staff that we can get through any challenge that arises on an interim basis until we can find a full-time GM."

Both Buchanan and Born were in the same position just a year ago when the Blazers dismissed GM Kevin Pritchard on the night of the draft in late June. The two were interim general managers until the Blazers hired Cho in July.

Cho, who had been an assistant GM with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the previous nine seasons, was told of the decision on Monday. He still had three years remaining on his contract.

The Blazers have split with five GMs since 2003: Bob Whitsitt, John Nash , Steve Patterson, Pritchard and Cho.

Blazers President Larry Miller said the team will reevaluate both what has transpired and the needs going forward before looking at candidates.

The major issues facing the Blazers right away are the June 23 NBA draft and Oden's status.

Portland has the No. 21 pick and will start predraft workouts in Portland on June 6. Assisting Buchanan and Born in the preparation will be assistant GMs Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry — both brought in by Cho — and scout Joe Cronin, as well as Allen and Miller.

"I'm going to lean heavily on these other guys. We have a real good synergy among our staff. I feel like Mike, Bill, Steve and Joe — I'm going to value everything they bring to the table, just like they would do in a flipped situation," Buchanan said. "We've got things on our plate ahead of us that we've spent a lot of time talking about already. There are a lot of things we're prepared to do and we're confident we can get it done."

As for Oden, there has been much talk about whether the Blazers will make the $8.8 million qualifying offer to keep the 7-foot former No. 1 draft pick, who becomes a restricted free agent.

Buchanan wouldn't say specifically what he plans to do with Oden, explaining that the shake-up in the front office was too new.

The Blazers will also consider their future with veteran point guard Andre Miller. Portland has until June 29 to exercise a $7.8 million team option on him. If they don't, Miller will become of a free agent.

Allen was out of the country and unavailable to answer questions about Cho's firing and the team's plans moving forward.

"This last year was a real learning experience for us," Miller said. "In terms of who it is and what type of person, what criteria there are for this role. We're going to take all of those things, based on that, we're going to develop a criteria for who we are going to bring into this role next."

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