FBA: Changes in Portland

Steve Patterson? Yeah, chances are the name doesn't ring any bells. Most NBA fans outside of Portland haven't the faintest idea who he is, and even fantasy gamers -- who generally make it their business to keep abreast of league news beyond their own backyards -- are mostly clueless about the guy.

Maybe that should come as a surprise, given that Patterson has been the Trail Blazers' team president since 2003 and the club's general manager since last May. Maybe it should be downright shocking, because the team bagged its best draft haul in recent memory during Patterson's one year in the GM's chair, and it managed to slash payroll and begin to reverse the culture of lawlessness that had gripped the franchise before Patterson's watch.

Weird, then, that Portland would announce Thursday that Patterson had tendered his resignation, just as the Blazers seem to be registering a pulse again (9-11 since mid-January for a team in full-on rebuilding mode ain't half bad). Owner Paul Allen always has done things his own way, but that doesn't precisely explain the timing of this thing. Indeed, the underlying theme of Patterson's exit press conference could be wrapped up in two words: Why now?