Los Angeles has been transformed into a hockey town during the Kings’ run through the NHL Final. On Monday night, the city celebrated a 4-0 Kings win over the Devils to take a 3-0 lead in the series.
Lost in the hype of Wayne Gretzky dropping the puck and his statue being adorned in a Kings sweater outside of Staples Center, there was some NBA activity in the city. Actually, there were two pieces of NBA news to drop in Los Angeles opposite Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
Neither piece centered on a writer or television commentator taking a run at Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant or the confusing playoff performances of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Bynum did factor in the day’s news, but it was merely an announcement that the Lakers had picked up the team option for 2012-2013. That’s no big deal. The question is whether Bynum signs a long-term extension and stays in LA, or whether he gets dealt during the summer.
No, the piece of news that is flying under the radar because of Game 5 between San Antonio and Oklahoma City and the glory of the NHL Final is that Neil Olshey left the Clippers to join the Trail Blazers. Last week, it was announced that Olshey would remain with the unit he constructed for another season and work with Vinny Del Negro (whose own contract issue remains) to build on Year One of the Blake Griffin-Chris Paul duo. Evidently, the deal in principle disintegrated and Olshey signed a deal with Portland.
Olshey worked the 2011-2012 season without a contract and made a series of moves since taking the reins in 2010 that reshaped this squad and gave the Clippers their first relevance in ages. The most obvious moves was to swoop in to steal Chris Paul after the NBA league office nixed a deal to send the point guard to the Lakers. But, you can’t ignore the impact made by Caron Butler, energizer Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin and scorer Nick Young.
The Clippers are a team on the come in the Western Conference, but they’ll do so with a new executive pulling the strings at the draft. Ultimately, Donald Sterling wouldn’t reward his young GM with a long-term deal, and his input on team management is well-documented. So, Olshey leaves for Portland, trading one unstable job for another volatile gig. The Blazers have long been known for off-court issues, and the unfortunate health issues of Greg Oden have undoubtedly hamstrung things for years. Coaches and executives have been shuffled continuously, so the idea of “stability” is certainly still a question.
I can’t wait to hear the sound from Tuesday’s press conference and the fallout in Los Angeles once Kings fans wake up from their Game 3 hangover.