Blazers expected to hire Branch, Rosenberry as assistant GMs

One of the primary reasons the Portland Trail Blazers hired Rich Cho as the team’s general manager was because of the new-generation executive’s reputation for thinking outside the box.

Cho has done just that with his first major move as GM while leading an organization that is attempting to take the next step in its evolution.

The Blazers are expected to soon name Bill Branch and Steve Rosenberry as co-assistant GMs, sources have informed The Columbian.

Branch’s hire is official, while Rosenberry’s deal with the Blazers is “99-percent” done, a team source said Tuesday.

Both will likely handle personnel-related duties and share similar job titles. The duo would combine to fill the role formerly held by Tom Penn, who was fired in March as the Blazers’ vice president of basketball operations.

Branch was Oklahoma City’s director of professional player personnel. Rosenberry served as Atlanta’s director of pro personnel/college scouting.

Cho focused upon acquiring Branch and Rosenberry as soon as he took over the Blazers’ GM position July 19.

Almost all 30 teams in the league employ a front-office system highlighted by one GM and a single assistant. But Cho decided to go a different route.

In addition, he opted to forgo star power for insider knowledge and expertise. Neither Branch nor Rosenberry are widely known outside the close-knit world of professional scouting. However, they perfectly fell in line with Cho’s desire for experienced talent evaluators who are expected to complement Portland lead scouts Michael Born and Chad Buchanan.

Branch worked with Cho for three seasons in Oklahoma City. Known to some as the “godfather of advanced scouting,” he has been in the league for 23 years and was previously employed by Denver and New Orleans.

Branch followed a career path similar to Cho, starting in 1987 as an intern with the then-Charlotte Hornets and working his way up to the position of scout for the gold medal-winning 2008 USA Basketball team.

Rosenberry also has past ties with Cho, as they both were employed by Seattle before the team relocated to Oklahoma City. Rosenberry served two stints with the SuperSonics, spending 19 years with the organization, and also worked for Milwaukee.

Rosenberry played in the Continental Basketball Association but never made it to the NBA. He then traded his extensive knowledge of the game for a scouting career, and is known as an opinionated talent evaluator who has close ties with most of the top college basketball coaches in the country.

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