Joe Cronin Shakes Interim Tag To Become Portland's 11th General Manager

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

The former intern is no longer the interim.

On Tuesday morning, the Trail Blazers announced that Joe Cronin has been elevated to General Manager, shedding the “interim” tag he’s had since taking the reins of Portland’s front office last December. Even though most observers assumed Cronin would eventually get the job, Tuesday’s announcement makes it official as preparations for the draft and free agency begin to ramp up in the coming weeks.

“I would like to thank Jody and Bert for this opportunity and a long list of other incredible people that have put their faith and trust in me not only over the last six months, but the last 16 years,” said Cronin, now the 11th general manager in team history, via press release. “My focus has always been creating a championship team and culture that players, coaches, and staff want to be a part of. I look forward to continuing that focus with the vision that Chauncey, Dewayne, and I share while unifying our business and basketball operations on and off the court.”

Cronin joined the Trail Blazers as a Basketball Operations intern back in 2006 and has worked for the organization ever since. Over the course of 16 seasons, Cronin has been the team’s pro scout and salary cap analyst, Director of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager before being elevated to interim General Manager after the dismissal of Neil Olshey. Now, after working for three different General Managers in Portland, Cronin will be tasked with remaking Portland’s roster.

Though Cronin has already made significant steps as the interim General Manager in that regard. He made the most drastic changes to the roster that the team had seen in nearly a decade, trading away the likes of CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Larry Nance Jr. in exchange for players such as Josh Hart, Justise Winslow, Joe Ingles and Keon Johnson, a first round draft pick and multiple trade exceptions.

While the moves didn’t help Portland on the court last season, the hope is that those transactions will put the Trail Blazers on a better footing going forward, and Cronin’s promotion would indicate the team is satisfied with the retooling of the roster thus far.

“Joe has shown in his short time as interim GM that he is more than ready to continue leading the front office,” said Jody Allen, Portland Trail Blazers Chair, via press release. “We remain excited for the future of Trail Blazers basketball with Joe and Chauncey driving a cohesive plan to build an even more competitive and winning roster.”

Cronin’s easygoing leadership and willingness to collaborate has also earned him praise within the organization since assuming the interim role back in December. He can often be seen courtside prior to games talking with players and executives, has made a point of having regular communication with Damian Lillard -- who has come out in favor of Cronin getting the job on a permanent basis -- and has developed a partnership with head coach Chauncey Billups, who he played against (and lost to) when both were growing up in Colorado, and team president Dewayne Hankins.

“I'm excited to continue to partner with Joe and help bring the success that Rip City expects to Moda Center,” said Billups. “We’ve established a great working relationship in the last six months and have the same vision for what it takes to win a championship in this league. I look forward to bringing Joe’s vision to life with our entire front office.”

While shedding the interim tag is certainly cause for celebration, Cronin won’t have much time to savor his promotion with the 2022 Draft fast approaching -- Portland has one first round pick and two seconds -- followed almost immediately by free agency. How he and his staff perform over the next few months could very well define organizational success for the next few seasons, stakes which are too high to be left to an interim executive. 

"From Day One, they -- ‘they’ being Jody (Allen) and Bert (Kolde) and the leadership group -- have been super trustworthy of my decisions," said Cronin in April at exit interviews. "They’ve allowed me to do a lot of staffing changes, they’ve allowed me to do a lot of roster changes. For me it’s always been, I can tell they full trust me. That’s really all I’m trying to accomplish here. I feel like I’ve earned that trust and I had it from the onset. I’m just moving forward that way."

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