Blazers fire Penn, source says

The Portland Trail Blazers fired vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn on Tuesday afternoon, a source close to the team said.

Penn had been a key component of the Blazers’ resurgence, working closely with general manager Kevin Pritchard, as the team used draft picks, trades and a variety of player acquisitions to rebuild the once-struggling franchise.

Messages left Tuesday evening for Penn and Pritchard were not immediately returned.

“We felt it was in the organization’s best interest to move in a different direction at this time,” Blazers president Larry Miller said in a press release. “This was not an easy decision, as Tom has played an integral role for us the past three seasons. We thank him for his contributions and wish him the best in the future.”

According to the source, there had been rumblings in recent weeks within the organization that Penn’s job was at stake. The primary reason was that Penn had a tendency to rub many of those he worked with the wrong way, the source said, and was seen as being a “ladder climber.”

Penn joined the Blazers in 2007. Known throughout the league as a salary cap and financial expert, Penn turned down a job offer last summer as general manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was promoted from the Blazers’ assistant GM to VP of basketball operations just 10 months ago.

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