Former Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry has emerged as one of the first front-office targets of the Trail Blazers after they abruptly fired Kevin Pritchard on draft night, according to sources with knowledge of Portland's thinking.
With no hope of successfully prying San Antonio's R.C. Buford or Oklahoma City's Sam Presti away from their respective clubs, Portland has Ferry high on its list of potential replacements for Pritchard, mere weeks after Ferry parted ways with the Cavaliers, sources told ESPN.com.
Blazers president Larry Miller told The Oregonian of Portland the search will begin in earnest Monday and that former Heat general manager Randy Pfund also is one of the names under consideration. The Oregonian reported that the Blazers also have interest in David Griffin, a former top aide in Phoenix to Steve Kerr.
Whether Ferry would be interested in such a quick return to the job -- especially after the seemingly vengeful manner of Pritchard's firing -- remains to be seen.
Ferry declined comment when reached via phone by ESPN.com.
The Blazers, like Dan Gilbert's Cavaliers, are a deep-pocketed organization known for giving their basketball people resources and the license to wheel and deal that many GMs envy.
But the apparent intent of Blazers owner Paul Allen to fire Pritchard in the most humbling manner possible -- about an hour before Thursday's draft began -- is expected to give pause to prospective replacements irrespective of the spending money Allen is known to provide his front-office executives.
Sources have maintained since it was announced June 4 that Ferry would not be receiving a new contract in Cleveland that Gilbert's desire to reclaim a more hands-on role in basketball decisions was a key factor in the split, along with Ferry's reluctance to fire coach Mike Brown.
Similar questions about autonomy are circulating about the Blazers' job in the wake of Pritchard's exit and persistent reports that Pritchard's popularity with Blazers fans actually hurt him with bosses who thought he received too much credit for Portland's consecutive 50-win seasons.
Miller said after the draft that Portland director of pro scouting Michael Born and director of college scouting Chad Buchanan will handle Pritchard's duties until a successor is found. Miller also told The Oregonian he is not under consideration for the job.
As shocking as the timing of his dismissal was, Pritchard's exit had been anticipated for weeks, despite his unquestioned role in the team's turnaround since the 2006 draft-day arrivals of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge and despite the fact that he is under contract through next season.
Doubts about Pritchard's future in Portland began to circulate widely in mid-March, when top aide Tom Penn was fired in similarly abrupt fashion. Penn worked the NBA draft this week for ESPN as a salary-cap expert.
The Oregonian reported Thursday that Allen instructed Pritchard to run the Blazers' draft-night operations after being informed of his firing. Miller told reporters in Portland that Pritchard asked to run Portland's draft-night operations and was allowed to do so.
"I would hope that the fans would trust that we're going to do everything we can to make this organization better, because that's what we're going to do," Miller told reporters in Portland. "The goal is to win a championship here and bring a championship to the city of Portland."
Regarding Pritchard specifically, Miller said: "I'm not going to get into the details about what transpired or why. But I would say the process itself took a lot of things into consideration and at the end of the day the decision was made that it was time to go a different direction."
Besides Portland's front-office opening, Phoenix is looking for replacements for Kerr and Griffin, and the New Jersey Nets will be looking for a new front-office chief, with Rod Thorn reportedly stepping down July 15, according to ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.