NBA Trade Deadline: Power Ranking the 10 Boldest NBA General Managers

Bradlee Ross@rossbeCorrespondent IIMarch 12, 2012

NBA Trade Deadline: Power Ranking the 10 Boldest NBA General Managers

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    The NBA Trade Deadline is nearly upon the NBA, and some general managers will be looking to improve their teams through blockbuster deals at the last second.

    Those are the bold ones, and this slideshow is for them.

    Guys like Pat Riley, Mitch Kupchak and Danny Ainge have all shown the willingness to shake things up to improve their teams' chances to win big in the playoffs.

    However, there are also some less-predictable names on the list; guys who are bold in ways one wouldn't normally expect.

    Here are the ten boldest general managers in the NBA right now.

10. Neil Olshey, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Neil Olshey is the man largely responsible for bringing the Los Angeles Clippers back into a respectable place in the NBA. Scratch the back of that sentence, since this is the first time it has ever happened.

    Olshey drafted Blake Griffin, not too bold. However, bringing Chris Paul, Caron Butler, and Kenyon Martin was pretty bold, especially for a single season. He also kept talented young center DeAndre Jordan, despite having to probably overpay for him.

    Olshey has been pretty bold, and it has paid off for the Clippers.

9. Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers

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    When you have a guy on your team as focused on winning as Kobe Bryant, do you have any choice but to make bold moves toward winning?

    Up until 2008, Kobe Bryant wasn't a fan of Mitch Kupchak, especially since the team hadn't won much since Shaquille O'Neal had been traded to the Miami Heat.

    But when Pau Gasol was acquired in 2008, Kupchak went way up in Kobe's mind.

    That bold, controversially one-sided move brought the Lakers two championships in three seasons.

    Boldness paid off for the Lakers, and we may see more of that soon this season.

8. Masai Ujiri, Denver Nuggets

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    Masai Ujiri is bold because, in a no-win situation, he traded one of the most talented players the Denver Nuggets have ever had for a big-time reward.

    Last season, Ujiri traded Carmelo Anthony where he wanted to go, but bled the New York Knicks dry in the process.

    By the time the trade was done, the Nuggets could play 10 players deep and the Knicks had just three guys that were any good.

    It was a bold move, and if he hadn't had the stones to pull it, the Nuggets would have been terrible last season and worse right now.

7. R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs

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    R.C. Buford is not a guy that is typically associated with the word bold; his team is the quietest in the NBA, yet is consistently one of the best.

    However, the San Antonio Spurs GM is bold for just that reason; he boldly refrains from being bold.

    Buford and Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti are very similar in that both are deliberate and quiet with moves.

    That similarity makes sense since Presti used to work for Buford.

    The Spurs continue to contend as they supplement their aging core with young talent, and Buford continues making smart moves, boldly ignoring those who underrate his team every year.

6. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    A big part of Sam Presti's boldness is his steadfast dedication to the plan he and his people have set in place for the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise.

    That plan includes incredibly intelligent drafting, building a team that fits together and knowing how to find talent in places where others can't.

    He has resisted the urge to follow the current NBA crowd in big signings and quick trades, in favor of  smart planning and slow, steady improvement.

    He's also rejected some interesting trade offers.

    Some of these rejections could be considered bold, including his reported recent rejection of a trade for Dwight Howard, the rejection of a Tyson Chandler trade (based on health) and his rejection of a trade with Boston for Rajon Rondo.

    Those are some very big names to have rejected.

5. Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks

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    Donnie Nelson has done some relatively bold things in his career. Bringing Jason Kidd back, keeping Dirk Nowitzki through thick and thin, and building a supporting cast of older veteran players for last year's championship team are just a few.

    However, Nelson is on here for what he and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are planning.

    Namely, a move in the offseason that would join Dirk Nowitzki with Dwight Howard and Deron Williams in Dallas, creating a Big Three that might be the most balanced of any the NBA has seen.

    If he can pull this off, he'll move up the list.

    Just for planning it, he comes in at No. 5

4. Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons

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    Much of the luster has worn off of Joe Dumars in the last five years or so, but he's still a good and very bold GM.

    In the early 2000s, Dumars boldly built a core of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.

    That team was one of the most balanced teams in history of the NBA.

    His boldest move was a bad one though.

    In 2007, after losing in the Eastern Conference Finals, Dumars traded away Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. It was a bold move to trade a championship-winning point guard away for a guy like Iverson.

    The Detroit Pistons were never the same.

3. Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks

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    Note: I am well-aware that Donnie Walsh no longer runs the Knicks.

    However, he is primarily responsible for the current makeup of their team, so I've included him on the list.

    Walsh, much like the two men above him on this list, made his bold reputation by pulling off big moves that were controversial at the time.

    When he was with the Pacers, he selected Reggie Miller over local hero Steve Alford, which proved to be a bold, yet rewarding decision.

    With the Knicks, Walsh brought Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony together, forming one of the better superstar duos in the league.

2. Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

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    Danny Ainge made a move in 2007 that left the rest of the NBA feeling swindled and looking up at his team.

    He pulled off monster trades for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, forming a Big Three with them and Paul Pierce.

    The trio led the Boston Celtics back to relevance in just a year, winning the championship that June.

1. Pat Riley, Miami Heat

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    Could this slide have gone to any other NBA executive?

    Pat Riley brought together three of the Top 10 best basketball players in the world together to form one super team.

    He had to be bold enough to let go of many solid talented players years ahead of time so that he'd have the cap space to pull this off.

    He formed a dynasty in what seemed to be just a few days.

    In reality, it was a bold move that took years to pull off.