Clippers' Lawrence Frank Wins 2019-20 NBA Executive of the Year Award

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2020

From left, Los Angeles Clippers President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank introduces Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at a press conference at the Green Meadows Recreation Center in Los Angeles, Wednesday, July 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

No executive did a better job of constructing a team for the 2019-20 NBA season than Los Angeles Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank.

Frank was named the 2019-20 NBA Executive of the Year on Thursday, beating out a strong field of contenders that included Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst, Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri and Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

On July 21, the NBA announced voting for awards would take place from July 21-28 and not take into account the eight seeding games the 22 teams invited to the restart plan in Walt Disney World Resort played.

That meant team records before the season was suspended on March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic were solid indicators of which executives did the best job of building their squads to compete.

That Presti's team was in the thick of the playoff race in the daunting Western Conference at 40-24 is an indication of his ability to revamp on the fly, which he did when Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors following the 2015-16 campaign and again during the past offseason.

He traded Paul George to the Clippers for Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a deal that also included draft-pick compensation. He then traded Russell Westbrook—the face of the Thunder organization—to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul in a deal that included draft-pick compensation.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Rather than focusing entirely on the future, OKC meshed with Paul as the veteran leader alongside a future star in Gilgeous-Alexander and someone who took on a larger scoring role in Gallinari.

Horst did less revamping with a Milwaukee team that reached the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.

Still, the 2018-19 Executive of the Year traded Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers, re-signed Brook Lopez, George Hill and Khris Middleton, and signed Robin Lopez, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews.

The result was a dominant group that fit in alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and had the league's best record at 53-12 before the season was suspended.

The Raptors were right behind the Bucks with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 46-18, underscoring Ujiri's ability to keep his team competitive even after Kawhi Leonard left to join the Clippers.

Toronto signed Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, who played major roles in last season's championship alongside Leonard, to extensions and remained on the shortlist of realistic championship contenders in 2019-20.

The Lakers were on that list of championship contenders as well with the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14 when play was paused.

Pelinka's ability to trade for Anthony Davis and build a supporting cast around the big man and LeBron James by signing Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook, among others, was a major reason for the success.

While trading for Davis seemed like an obvious move to make, the Lakers had to mortgage some of the future they built with Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball in the move. Pelinka weighed that decision and ultimately made one that put the Lakers in the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign.

The Lakers weren't the only title contenders in Los Angeles, as Frank made some of the most impactful moves of the offseason by signing Leonard and trading for George.

The result was a Clippers team that was 44-20 when play was suspended, which was the second-best mark in the West. They suddenly had two superstars to go with a talented supporting cast that included Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet and more.

All of these executives made a number of important decisions, but it was Frank who took home the award.