GM search, trade talks continue

The Portland Trail Blazers’ search for a new general manager is winding down.

The team is just days away from officially signing its premier free agent option.

And when Blazers president Larry Miller takes stock of where the organization is at and where things appear to be heading, he feels confident the team is doing just fine.

To the point that Miller said Friday the Blazers are in a slightly better position now than they were a year ago.

Last season, Portland had a GM and an assistant GM. But the Blazers initially struck out in free agency. A commitment from Hedo Turkoglu fell through, while a “toxic” offer to Paul Millsap backfired. Portland did not sign its third option, Andre Miller, until July 24.

This season, the Blazers fully expect guard Wesley Matthews to be wearing black and red by next Tuesday. And while Miller acknowledged that the team has received criticism during the past month, he said Portland is on track and on target — despite living life without a GM and assistant GM.

“In spite of what some of the thoughts may have been out there, I think we have continued to make progress,” Miller said.

The Blazers are also narrowing down a three-week-long GM search.
Danny Ferry, Randy Pfund and Rich Cho are the primary candidates, though none appear to be a clear-cut favorite.

Miller said he expects to finalize the process “sooner than later,” which is expected to culminate in a meeting with Blazers owner Paul Allen.

“I feel very good about where we are. And we’ve got some very good candidates,” Miller said. “All three people are all really strong, solid candidates for this role. And I’m 100-percent confident that we’re going to end up with a strong, solid person.”

Meanwhile, Portland continues to explore trade possibilities.

The expiring contracts of Andre Miller and Joel Przybilla, a loaded roster with significant depth at the center position, and questions surrounding Rudy Fernandez’s future have combined to drive trade discussions that began in June.

Miller said he has spent a significant amount of time this week in Las Vegas during the NBA’s Summer League talking with GMs, team presidents and agents he has known for years, in the attempt to “see what might be out there.”

Asked how likely it is that Portland will pull off a major trade before the start of the 2010-11 season, Miller did not hesitate.

“We are continuing to look at that scenario,” Miller said. “And if the right situation is there for us that’s going to make us better as a team, we’re going to go after it. The reality is, we’re continuing to pursue whatever opportunities are out there.”

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