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Patterson Resigns From Trail Blazers

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Portland Trail Blazers president and general manager Steve Patterson unexpectedly resigned Thursday.

Tod Leiweke, chief executive officer of the Seattle Seahawks, will take over Patterson's duties while a replacement is found, team owner Paul Allen's company said.

Patterson has been the team president since 2003. He became the GM after John Nash was fired last May. The resignation came hours before the Trail Blazers (24-34) played at home Thursday night against Charlotte.

Portland is next to last in the Northwest Division but has regrouped this season after finishing with a league-worst 21-61 record last year. The improvement has been sparked by a flurry of draft-day trades and an infusion of young talent, including potential rookie of the year Brandon Roy.

Leiweke will remain in his role with the Seahawks. The Seahawks and the Blazers are owned by Allen, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft.

``Putting the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks under a common management umbrella underscores my commitment to the future of both franchises,'' Allen said. ``Tod has done great things for the Seahawks, and I fully expect similar results for the Trail Blazers,'' he said.

Patterson said his contract was to expire soon and ``this was simply the right time to step away.''

``I take great pride in what we achieved during my time in Portland and am confident we have placed this organization on a path that will result in success for many years to come,'' Patterson added. ``We have faced and overcome significant challenges in the past four seasons and now is the right time for the team to push ahead with new management.''

Leiweke also will become the CEO of a newly formed management company, Vulcan Sports & Entertainment.

Vulcan Inc. is Allen's company. Vulcan Sports will oversee the Trail Blazers, and all properties currently run by the Seahawks. The company will also run the Rose Garden Arena and Memorial Coliseum, upon completion of Vulcan's negotiations with Portland Arena Management to reacquire the property, according to Vulcan.

``Over the last couple of years, we've created some great memories for Seahawks fans,'' Leiweke said. ``I look forward to creating the opportunity for Portland and all the Trail Blazer fans to have those same experiences.''
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