Neil Olshey insisted on Monday that the Trail Blazers' coaching search had yet to begin in earnest. Just three days later, the list of potential candidates seems to have been significantly pared down.

Portland is currently seeking permission from their incumbent teams to interview "seven or eight candidates" to become the Blazers' next head coach, according to NBC Sports Northwest's Dwight Jaynes.

The team is in the process now of narrowing the scope to a manageable number and is currently in the process of requesting permission from current employers to conduct initial interviews with, according to a league source, approximately seven or eight candidates.

There remains no timetable for Portland's hiring process, NBC Sports Northwest also notes.

The Blazers mutually agreed to part ways with Terry Stotts last week, less than 24 hours after they were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Though Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups – by way of Damian Lillard's public preferences – quickly emerged as the leading candidates to succeed Stotts, Olshey said during his inflammatory season-ending press conference on Monday that Portland had yet to interview a single name from an expected initial group of "20 to 25" candidates. 

Kidd, perhaps sensing the swift blowback in Rip City to his history of domestic abuse, has withdrawn from consideration for the job. Billups, accused of rape in 1997, reportedly remains a leading contender to take the reins in Portland. Not only does he have Lillard's pre-approval, but Billups, a rookie assistant with the LA Clippers,  and Olshey have a strong relationship dating back even before their shared time with LA in 2011-12.

Brooklyn Nets assistant and well-respected offensive mastermind Mike D'Antoni has also been a long-rumored candidate for the Blazers. The Athletic reported on Thursday that D'Antoni, 70, has "serious interest" in becoming Portland's head coach.

ESPN announcer Jeff Van Gundy and University of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard have also been frequently linked to the Blazers' coaching vacancy.

[Dwight Jaynes, NBC Sports Northwest]

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