Blazers tied club record for worst season ever

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.