NBA General Managers' Favorite Game: Is Michael Jordan Dumb Enough?
General managers around the NBA are always making moves that cause fans and GMs alike to cringe in dismay. Many of the contracts dolled out to mediocre players over the past decade have made followers of the sport scratch their heads in wonder, pondering why.
The best examples of this type of questionable management can be found by looking back at Isiah Thomas' reign as the Knicks general manager or even more recently at Otis Smith's foolish gambles in Orlando. Just think of all the Magic's bad contracts that still remain on the books after Smith's departure—Glen Davis (three years, $6.4 million per), Jason Richardson (three years, $5.8 million per) and Chris Duhon (two years, $3.3 million per).
Yes, Thomas and Smith were both former NBA players. And yes, many of the questionable contracts given out over the past decade were by former players turned general managers. However, just because a general manager was a former player does not mean that he will fail as a general manager and sink the team with bad contracts (Pat Riley, Larry Bird and Jerry West had great success to name a few).
What is more interesting is that the greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan, is also on track to be remembered as one of the worst NBA executives the game has ever known. A fact that I find ironic. Why?
Because Jordan, himself, was directly involved with the greatest front office blunder in NBA history. Yes, I'm talking about when Portland drafted Sam Bowie ahead of MJ in the 1984 NBA draft.
And because now, Jordan is responsible for two of the wost draft decisions in the last decade by selecting Kwame Brown first overall while with Washington in 2001 and Adam Morrison third overall immediately after arriving in Charlotte in 2006.
Jordan's penchant for bad executive decisions does not end with draft picks, however. He has given out more than his fair share of bad contracts. Think of stinkers like Matt Carroll's six-year, $27 million deal or the extension given to Tyrus Thomas (more on that issue below).
Michael has also made his fair share of bad trades. Think of when he traded Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley to the Suns for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw's awful five-year, $45 million contract, which eventually became so unmovable that Charlotte had to buy Diaw out of his last season.
Or, even better yet, think of the trade he orchestrated to move Flip Murray, Acie Law and a future first-round pick to the Bulls for Tyrus Thomas. And, to make things even worse, he re-signed Thomas to an astounding five-year, $40 million contract after making the trade.
I think it is only fitting that I end my highlight of some of Jordan's bad executive decisions by talking about the Thomas situation because it is his current contract that triggers my question of the day: Is Michael Jordan dumb enough to trade for Carlos Boozer?
Of course, the answer is yes.
Jordan has had very little success since hanging up his sneakers for a desk and is seemingly always looking to shake things up. He wants to win so badly and is willing to take risks to make it happen as fast as possible.
Can Chicago sell MJ on a trade that would return Boozer to North Carolina where he played his college ball (Duke to be exact) and that would return Thomas to Chicago where he began his NBA career?
Who knows, but if I am Gar Forman I would certainly make a call. I would invite Jordan out for a morning round of golf and would sell him on why he wants Boozer. Check that—why he needs Boozer.
Though the consensus around the NBA is that Boozer's contract is untradable (no contract is unmovable—see Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas trades), I would tell Jordan that it is much better to have an overpaid and under-performing Boozer on a team full of young and impressionable players than an overpaid bad influence in Thomas.
Boozer is under-performing in relation to his massive contract, but Thomas is under-performing not only in relation to his bloated contract but also in relation to what is expected of mediocre power forwards in the NBA.
Both Thomas and Boozer have three years left on their respective contracts and although Boozer makes double what Thomas earns on an annual basis, he is a much more productive and reliable player. Boozer averaged 15 points and 8.5 boards last year while Thomas only averaged 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds.
Forman needs to sell MJ on the fact that Boozer can contribute far more to the Bobcats' organization and that he is actually a better value per dollar than Thomas since his output is more than double that of Thomas'.
Most importantly, Forman must convince Jordan that the Bulls are in a position to help him reverse history and undo not only one but two of his biggest executive blunders (trading for and extending Thomas) if he is willing to play ball.
Forman can tell Jordan that Chicago is willing to return the favor of him helping the city hoist six championship banners by helping Michael gain some retribution for past bad decisions.
"How?" his Airness will ask.
To which Gar will reply, "Chicago is prepared to trade the future first-round pick which we originally received in exchange for Thomas back to Charlotte as part of the deal."
And to which Jordan will reply, "I'm listening. Tell me more."
Under the proposed deal, Chicago would send Boozer and the Bobcats' future first-round pick to Charlotte in exchange for Thomas and shooting guard Gerald Henderson.
Henderson is in the final year of his rookie deal and will be due a qualifying offer of $4.27 million after next season if his team desires to make him a restricted free agent. That means that Chicago could give Henderson one, maybe two years to continue developing to assess whether he can be the answer to the Bulls' quest for the "shooting guard of the future."
Although Henderson has not quite lived up to his promise as the 12th pick in the 2009 draft, he did show some improvement last season. Forman will need to convince Jordan that his recent acquisition of Ben Gordan means that Gordon should be Charlotte's starting shooting guard for the remaining two years of his contract and that Henderson is expendable.
Forman needs to sell Jordan on the notion that a combination of Boozer and the Bobcats' first-round pick are worth more to Charlotte's rebuilding efforts than Thomas and Henderson.
If Henderson is not in Charlotte's long-term plans, then I think Jordan would love the opportunity for retribution and to reacquire the first-round pick he foolishly traded for Thomas in the first place.
If Henderson is part of the Bobcats' rebuilding efforts and will not going anywhere in the next two years, then I think Chicago would still trade the first-round pick and Boozer to the Bobcats for Thomas and another player with an expiring deal like Reggie Williams.
If Chicago could move Boozer for a player half the price and pickup a young shooting guard in the process at the cost of only the Bobcats' future first-round pick, it would be a no-brainer decision for Gar Forman. Shedding Boozer's salary would open a world of possibilities for the Chicago front office over the next couple years and give the team financial flexibility to compete with Miami and the New York teams.
Is a trade of Boozer and the first-round pick for Thomas and Henderson likely to happen? No, which is exactly why you have to love Michael Jordan. He presents almost limitless possibilities for other NBA front offices. He forces GMs around the league to think to themselves, "is Michael Jordan dumb enough?"
Will Jordan's desire to be the best and prove he is not a failure as an NBA executive come back to haunt him? I think it is safe to answer yes.
Will the Bulls be the team to reap the rewards of his next bonehead move? I sure hope so—and it would seem that they have just the right psychological ammunition to make it happen considering the potential retribution connected with a return of the coveted future first-round pick.
So now I beg the question: Is Michael Jordan dumb enough to trade for Carlos Boozer?
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