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Finally, Trail Blazers Fire Neil Olshey

At long last.

The Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager Neil Olshey this morning for “violations of the Portland Trail Blazers’ code of conduct.”

Olshey was the front office’s top basketball executive for the past nine years. Last month, subordinates accused him of bullying, screaming and cursing at them for much of that reign.

The team did not say what, specifically, merited his termination, describing the results of the investigation conducted by the law firm O’Melveny and Meyers over the past month as privileged.

Olshey’s two best moves as GM came at the beginning of his tenure when he drafted guards Damian Lillard out of Weber State (2012) and C.J. McCollum (2013) from Lehigh. Pulling two bona fide NBA stars out of second- and third-tier programs showed great promise, but Olshey’s record since then consists largely of unproductive draft picks, unmemorable trades and a failure to sign significant free agents.

He is widely loathed by the Blazers fan base for surrounding Lillard—one of the game’s undisputed superstars—with an undersized roster that could not stop your grandmother from getting 30 points and 7 rebounds. He was also publicly contemptuous of people who questioned his decisions; as wags often noted, the only time the Blazers played defense was at his press conferences.

That track record reached a new low this offseason when Olshey blamed Terry Stotts’ coaching for the team’s whimpering playoff exit, then led a woebegone search for a new coach that centered on two men previously accused of abusing women.

The Blazers are scuffling through what looks like another lost season in Lillard’s prime, and stories of Olshey’s red-faced tirades started leaking out of the Blazers’ Tualatin practice facility shortly after the season-opening loss to Sacramento. Olshey’s roster construction was not an official reason he was fired, but other NBA executives are concerned enough about a silent link between the team’s performance and the conduct probe that they have discussed forming a union.

Top player scout Joe Cronin was promoted to interim GM while the team searches for an Olshey replacement. Former Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge, Oregon born, is available and high on the holiday wish list of the Blazer faithful.