Open Mic: GM's Make The Most Difference In The NBA

Samuel Bell JrSenior Analyst IJune 24, 2008

Put your feet in Danny Ainge's shoes last April.

A horrible 24-win season, a disgruntled All-Star in Paul Pierce and a fiery hot seat for your coach, Doc Rivers to sit in.

One word. Nasty.

So what do you do Danny? Go out and trade nearly your whole team for Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Garnett. That's guts.

Or maybe not, considering the fact that the Celtics were coming off of a horrible season that nobody wanted to see duplicated, and at the very least Danny Ainge could get critical acclaim for making an aggressive move if the trade didn't work.

Before we could blink our eyes, Ainge made another deal on draft night to bring 32-year-old All-Star Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics to Boston.

That move had its skeptics, and I even remember my main man ESPN columnist Bill Simmons saying, "why go out and get an aging SG with a bad ankle?"

I myself didn't agree with him, and I knew the combination of three All-Stars on one team was a great short-term move by Ainge. All he needed to do was go out and find a good supporting cast to complement them.

And that he did.

Guys like James Posey, P. J Brown and Sam Cassell were brought in, and the combination proved to be explosive for the Celtics as they captured their 17th title and first since 1986.

Of course all of the credit went to Glenn "Doc" Rivers, but Danny Ainge did a great job of taking risks to win now and please the fans.

That's why I believe that the GM's in the NBA have the most difficult job.

They have to draft young players and assess their talents after very short college careers, and take huge hits if they make the wrong decisions.

NBA rosters are the smallest out of the three major sports, and thus have smaller margins for error.

One player can set you back for many years if they turn out to be a bust. For example, the Charlotte Bobcats haven't had good production out of draft picks and have had many sub-par seasons in a row.

Picks like Adam Morrison and Sean May have been injured and slow to develop, and therefore the team is suffering from underproduction.

Contrastingly, teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz have made huge strides in returning their respective franchises to prominence.

Players such as Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Josh Smith and Chris Paul have made their coaches and GM's look great.

After mediocre seasons recently teams such as the New Orleans Hornets and the Toronto Raptors have benefited from good pieces put together by the front office.

Assessing talent in any sport is hard, but in a league where 10- to 14-man rosters are the norm, it's harder to fill teams with potential talent.

In the NFL, there are seven draft rounds and some really good players emerge from the third to sixth rounds. Guys like Tom Brady wouldn't have gotten a chance in the NBA.

Only two rounds make it very difficult for NBA GM's to assess the talent, and with the brink of the talent being underclassmen who only play for one year, the skills may not be there yet, or may never arrive, like Kwame Brown.

Both the MLB and NFL have rosters of double or more than the NBA, and have more players who have been evaluated for years instead of one measly college season.

Outside of the superstars, trades and free agent pickups also make or break NBA rosters more than other major sports.

Second-tier players such as Gilbert Arenas, Emeka Okafor and Monta Ellis are critical to team success and can help transform a franchise.

Or they can burn out and stay injured or less effective, like Devean George or Chris Mihm.

I always believed that NBA coaches should have more say in who teams pick-up and draft because if it doesn't work, their job is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, GM's hold the finger to the trigger and coaches have much less control.

In the NFL and MLB, if it all works then the manager or coach is great. In the NBA, if it all works then the GM AND coach are great, but if it doesn't work then the coach and GM both suck.

If the Celtics would have been horrible again, Doc Rivers would have gone and Sportscenter would absolutely rip Danny Ainge. He wouldn't survive.

Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen has screwed up for a long time. It seems that he has more lives than an alley-cat.

Fortunately for Danny, it all worked.

Now for those Chicago Bulls...Scott Skiles who?


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