Portland, Ore. The Portland Trail Blazers fired general manager Kevin Pritchard after six seasons with the team, ending months of speculation that he had fallen out of favor with billionaire owner Paul Allen.
The Oregonian newspaper reported about an hour before the draft started that Pritchard had been dismissed. The team confirmed the firing at the conclusion of the draft.
“This process was more public and took longer than any of us would have liked, but that was indicative of how critical a decision this was for the franchise,” Allen said in a statement. “We want to thank and acknowledge Kevin for his solid work in getting us to where we are today. Parting ways with a popular general manager is not something we take lightly. In the end, we decided to make a change.”
Pritchard ducked out of the Blazers’ practice facility before the conclusion of the draft. He did not return phone messages.
He said last week he understood that a search firm had been hired to find his replacement but vowed to fight for his job. He was under contract through next season with a team option for 2011-12.
One of Pritchard’s rumored replacements, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, recently denied that he had been contacted about the job.