Nash won't return as Trail Blazers' general manager

PORTLAND, Ore. -- With the NBA draft looming and uncertainty
surrounding the franchise's ownership, the Portland Trail Blazers
decided not to extend general manager John Nash's contract.

President Steve Patterson will take on Nash's duties while the
Blazers search for a GM. Kevin Pritchard, director of player
personnel, will handle the June 28 draft.

The Blazers had the NBA's worst record last season, 21-61. They
have the fourth pick in the draft.

The team extended Pritchard's contract for next season,
Patterson said Wednesday in a brief news conference at the Blazers'
Tualatin practice facility. Pritchard is a candidate for general

"Although we shared some successes as an organization, I wish
we could have made more rapid progress on the court," Nash said in
a statement released by the team. "I am very proud of the young
men that have joined the team in recent years and, under the
guidance of the outstanding coaching staff that is in place,
progress will be made in subsequent seasons."

The team announced the Nash decision late Tuesday. His contract
was to expire June 30.

Patterson said that despite the impending draft and owner Paul
Allen's announcement that he could sell the team, there was no
sense in "delaying artificially" a decision on Nash.

"As John said in his statement, we wished we had made more
progress on the floor and done it in quicker fashion," Patterson

But Patterson refused to label Nash as the scapegoat for the
team's performance. The Blazers lost 19 of their last 20 games.

"I think we all accept responsibility for a ballclub that won
only 21 games last year," he said.

Patterson set no timeline for naming Nash's successor and said
he didn't expect it before the draft.

Nash, a former GM with New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington,
joined the Trail Blazers three years ago. At the time, Nash said he
planned to continue Portland's winning tradition while reducing its
high payroll and signing players who wouldn't run afoul of the law.

"I didn't come here to lose basketball games, trust me when I
tell you," Nash said at his introductory news conference in July

But the Trail Blazers finished 41-41 in Nash's first season,
snapping a streak of 21 consecutive playoff appearances. In
2004-05, the Trail Blazers had their first losing season since
1988-89. The fall to the bottom of the NBA was completed this

Nash initially was credited with getting rid of the players seen
as troublesome for the Blazers, including Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi

But he was criticized for using high draft picks on high school
players Sebastian Telfair and Martell Webster and for signing
forwards Darius Miles and Zach Randolph to expensive, long-term

Adding to the team's woes was Allen's assertion in February that
the team was a financial disaster in need of public assistance. The
Microsoft co-founder had given up ownership of the Rose Garden
arena in 2004, meaning the team no longer generated revenue from
sources such as luxury suites.

City and state officials have scoffed at helping out. Allen
could sell the team or put it into bankruptcy, although at least
two parties say they are interested in buying it.

Patterson said he did not think the ownership situation would
deter GM candidates.

"I think ultimately it's an attractive market, it's a great
town, and I think we're going to have success here," Patterson