No one is sitting on a hotter seat than Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith. Either way, it looks like he's losing Dwight Howard and it'll take a blockbuster trade to satisfy his critics in Orlando.
He traded a $20 million a year contract for another in the Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis trade. And he did dump Arenas and the big contract, but now he's facing losing the best pure center in professional basketball. Funny thing. A few years ago, Smith and the Magic were knocking on the NBA Championship door with Howard, Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass and point man Jameer Nelson. But my how things have changed. This talented crew was busted up.
Turkoglu left, Lewis was traded, Bass bolted and Vince Carter has come and gone. Puff!! Smith will get the blame no matter what unless he pulls off the deal of the century for Howard. Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol for Howard? Sure.
But the Los Angeles Lakers get the better end of the deal with that. Bynum is no Howard and Gasol seems confused and dazed over girlfriend problems and trade rumors. Brooke Lopez? If I'm the Nets I'll personally drive Lopez to Orlando for that deal. Is there a fair deal for Smith and the Magic? Probably not. This won't end pretty. Shades of Shaq. Smith is in a losing position.
The bad thing about Washington Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld is that his owner is a relatively new owner, and has yet to bring in "his own people." Ted Leonsis says all the right things as an owner, but everyone is waiting for him to put his own stamp on the team. Going back to the old red, white and blue uniforms was ceremonial. It's time to make the changes all new owners do.
Grunfeld had a nice run with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison and the gang. Exciting games a few years ago against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Wiz lost every time.
He sent everyone packing after the Cleveland losses, and then there was the gun. Arenas and Javaris Crittenton squared off, sort of, in the locker room. And the rest is history. Quite frankly Grunfeld did quite well, but "quite well" doesn't cut it in the NBA where every owner is thirsty for a ring. It's time for a fresh set of eyes and a new vision. No disrespect to Ernie and his very impressive background.
New Jersey Nets Coach Avery Johnson suffers from the "Ernie Grunfeld Syndrome." You know? A relatively new owner who might not be too patient. Russian Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a businessman first. If the Nets don't land Dwight Howard, what justifies the terrible won-loss record and abysmal performances?
Derron Williams is the lone superstar on the team and from what we hear, his status isn't on lock down either. His name also surfaces in trade talks. The Nets have had horrible records the past two years. They're expected to move to New York, and now all of a sudden the stakes get higher. You're in the city and so are the Knicks. If the Nets don't come correct, why come at all? Clean house? Clean new arena? Clean start?
Players love him. In fact, when he took over the team last year in midseason, the team responded. Since then? Not so much. Paul Silas is a class act, but unfortunately the Bobcats are not winning basketball games. They're probably the worst team in the NBA, and that usually doesn't produce job security. I'm not sure why owner Michael Jordan hired Silas in the first place. It seemed like an odd choice, but Jordan's decisions as an owner or president of basketball operations have not mirrored his playing career.
We all love Silas because of great playing days with the Celtics, his basketball knowledge and experience. I would have put Bobcats General Manager Rod Higgins in the same hot seat as Silas, but he's Jordan's boy and Higgins isn't going anyway as long as MJ owns the club. It's not totally Silas' fault. He needs players and a franchise guy. The Bobcats have neither.
It's not totally Monty Williams' fault the New Orleans Hornets are a horrible basketball team. Most of the blame goes to NBA Commissioner David Stern. He's the one who vetoed the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. That trade would've brought some decent players to the Hornets, and I'm sure they would've been better than they are now. But Davey-Boy got his briefs in a bunch because he saw the Lakers re-loading and he couldn't have that. What Stern didn't realize is that he sentenced New Orleans and it's fans to a dismal season and immediate future. Thanks Dave!
The fallout unfortunately will focus on, you guessed it, the coach. And to think that a few short years ago the Hornets had Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler and a cast of talented role players. They're far, far away from that now, and there's little Williams can do. He can blame Stern for his troubles, but as an NBA coach the buck stops at your desk.