Blazers tied club record for worst season ever

Updated: May 18, 2005, 7:35 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers announced Wednesday the team has exercised its option to extend the contract of General Manager John Nash after the Blazers tied their worst season ever this year.

Nash said team president Steve Patterson gave him the news by telephone late Wednesday morning. Nash said he had not considered looking elsewhere although at the end of the regular season his future with Portland was considered uncertain.

As manager Nash is responsible for day-to-day basketball operations and player personnel decisions.

A potential replacement for Nash was Kevin Pritchard, who became the interim coach on March 2 after the Blazers fired Maurice Cheeks and began heading straight downhill to a 27-55 record, tying their worst season of 1973-74. They failed to make the playoffs for the second season in a row.

The Blazers remain without a regular coach. Nash said there is a "short list" but declined Wednesday to say who is on it. He said the team wants a coach in place before free agency picks and late June's NBA draft.

Nash said the plan is to "take a group of young players and pepper the roster with veteran players."

Patterson said the Blazers want to move to a younger roster, "to guys we can build with. John is the primary architect who is putting these things together."

An urgent need is at the guard posts, Nash said.

Patterson and Nash are newly back from Moscow where they scouted veteran free agents playing overseas.

Nash had faced controversy over the trades of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, but he also oversaw a productive 2004 draft that brought Sebastian Telfair, Viktor Khryapa, Sergei Monia and Ha Seung Jin to Portland.

However, he struggled to trade Shareef Abdur-Rahim and find a shooting guard, while he was questioned about the size of some of the contracts the Blazers signed -- including $84 million for Zach Randolph and $48 million for Darius Miles over six years.

Nash's two-year contract with Portland expires June 30. The length of his extension was not specified.

He was named the Trail Blazers' sixth general manager in July 2003. He took over for president and GM Bob Whitsitt, whose personnel moves angered many fans. The Blazers failed to win a championship with the league's highest payroll, and the roster included players with both character and legal issues.

Steve Patterson took over Whitsitt's duties as president.

Before joining the Blazers, Nash had served as general manager in Philadelphia, Washington and New Jersey.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press