Interview: Blazers president Miller on Pritchard, Penn and rumors

Transcript of an interview conducted Thursday evening with Portland Trail Blazers president Larry Miller.

Miller on whether he has any knowledge of tension between the basketball and business sides of the Blazers:

No. I mean, to me, I think we are probably more so than any team in the NBA that I am aware of, we have a closer relationship between basketball and the rest of the business more than any team, I think, in the NBA. As far as my knowledge or the awareness of any animosity or anything like that, the answer is no. I mean, we’ve done our retreats together. We work together, as good, if not better, than any team in the NBA. And the idea that there’s some animosity from folks towards Kevin (Pritchard) and Tom (Penn) any reason is definitely not true. To me, everybody in the organization wants the basketball side to do well. Because the better the basketball department does, the better we all do. So, definitely from my perspective, as far as my concern, as far as my knowledge, there’s no animosity at all between the basketball departments and the rest of the departments. So, wherever you’re hearing that from, I don’t know where they’re getting that from.

On whether Penn, former vice president of basketball operations, was given a specific reason when he was fired:

I can’t go into any of the details. And, again, to me, the comment of “philosophical differences,” that’s really what it came down to. And it was an organizational decision. It was a senior-management decision. And, like I said, I can’t get in to any details. But we wish Tom the best and I have to stick with the comment.

On whether the decision to fire Penn came from a high-ranking official outside of the Blazers organization, and Miller had little involvement beyond executing the order:

The only thing I can comment to you on is, it was a management decision — it wasn’t a single person’s decision. It was a management decision.

On clarifying “senior-management decision”:

It was a senior-management group. It was a group senior management decision. It wasn’t one person’s decision. And there were people — it wasn’t just folks from Seattle; there were folks from Portland as well.

On whether Pritchard’s future with the organization is short term, Pritchard’s job security, and his overall performance as GM:

Kevin is our GM. He continues to be our GM. From my perspective, Kevin’s done a good job of building the team that has gotten us to where we are. To me, this was an incident that was specific to Tom Penn. We should, from my perspective, again, we should be focused on winning games and trying to go deep in the playoffs. And as unfortunate as this is, we should now move to put it behind us and move forward.

On whether there is any resentment toward Pritchard and Penn because of the team’s recent success:

I think it’s absolutely being dreamed up. Kevin and I have had a great working relationship since the time I’ve been here and continue to. And, to me, I want the basketball department to do well, and I think everybody here does. Because the better off they do, the better off the organization is. I’m always — in every job I’ve been in, in every organization I’ve worked for — I’ve always been a team player. And so, that hasn’t changed with the Trail Blazers. And, again, from my perspective and anybody that I know of, I don’t know of any animosity or ill feelings toward Kevin. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

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