30. Geoff Petrie, Sacramento Kings
Seemingly clueless in constructing a coherent basketball team. Throwing together a mish-mash of me-first, no-defense knuckleheads shows a staggering lack of awareness about how an NBA game is won. It’s almost as if they’re deliberately putting a horrible product on the floor so that the fans in Sacramento won’t give a rats when they eventually skulk away to another market. And it’s probably working.
Petrie must take responsibility for creating an environment where a good majority of players that come through the organisation either don’t reach their full potential, or can’t find a role. And that’s disturbing. I don’t think anyone doubts that Tyreke Evans could be a very good to great NBA player in the right situation, but he’s clearly going nowhere in this cesspool of dysfunction.
To be ranked as the worst GM in a league full of bad ones, now that’s something.
29. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards
A laughably bad GM – he’s got a poor eye for talent and is largely responsible for some horrific decision-making which has set the club back years (i.e. the monster extension handed to Gilbert Arenas after two knee surgeries, the extension to bonehead Andray Blatche, and trading the fifth pick in the 2009 draft (Ricky Rubio) to Minnesota for Mike Miller and Randy Foye).
But he could have turned it around. They had cap space on the horizon and the opportunity to rebuild around John Wall and do it the right way, but he gave it all up by trading for Nene, Okafor and Ariza, which firmly cements them to mediocrity.
Did I mention he just received a contract extension?
28. Bryan Colangelo, Toronto Raptors
On what basis does this guy still have a job? During his seven year tenure they’ve gone nowhere and cultivated nothing. He hands out bad contracts like they’re candy and he’s yet to nab a difference maker in the draft, despite getting lottery picks year after year. Surely the name can only carry him so far.
27. Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons
Yes, his decision-making played a key role in their 2004 title, but c’mon now, that was 8 years ago. Since that time he has made one bad decision after another. The extensions to Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince were absurd, and his big free agent signings in 2009 – Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva – essentially torpedoed the club. He got lucky in the draft in recent years with Monroe, Knight and Drummond falling into his lap, but overall his body of work since the title has been nothing short of a disgrace.
26. Billy King, Brooklyn Nets
He’s made a mess in every stop and Brooklyn will be no different. He grossly overpays and picks ‘name’ players regardless of fit (or playing ability). How else can you explain him signing the corpse of Jerry Stackhouse, and Josh Childress and Andray Blatche – two players whose teams paid them to go away – to round out the Brooklyn bench. After a disappointing showing in the playoffs, they’ll be calling for his head at the end of the season.
25. David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves
No one murders a draft like David Kahn; his track record on high draft picks is horrendous. But in spite of that this current Timberwolves team holds promise. However, recent comments from their owner Glen Taylor suggest that their roster improvements (Kirilenko, Budinger etc.) and subtractions (Beasley, Randolph, Darko) have more to do with Rick Adelman’s input than Kahns. Apparently Kahn pleaded for Brandon Roy in the offseason (and then outbid himself to give him $10.4 million over two years, despite Roy having no cartilage left in his knees), and we all know how that will eventually play out.
24. John Hammond, Milwaukee Bucks
Don’t be fooled by their fast start. He’s kept them firmly on the treadmill of mediocrity by overpaying and acquiring flawed/injury prone players (Gooden, Salmons, Maggette, Ellis, Dunleavy, Dalembert), instead of doing what needs to be done here – a complete tear down and rebuild (around their youngsters).
23. Lon Babby, Phoenix Suns
The Suns need to start over, point blank. They have some decent players on reasonable contracts, but to trot this group out as a supposed playoff team is just ridiculous. And outbidding yourself to give Michael Beasley $6 million per year and a prominent role? The desert heat must be going to his head.
22. Rob Hennigan, Orlando Magic
The apparent ‘Sam Presti disciple’ hasn’t done too well since taking over the reins. Getting 10 cents on the dollar for Dwight Howard (not all his fault, they left it too late), trading away your second best player (Anderson) for next to nothing and giving Jameer Nelson an outrageous $8 million per year extension, ain’t good.
21. Gary Sacks, Los Angeles Clippers
Unknown. Sacks got the job because Donald Sterling was too cheap to pay Olshey, who had done a good job. And Chris Paul reportedly made all the decisions in free agency.
20. Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz
He’s new to the job so it’s hard to judge. And I’m assuming at some point that the Jazz will wise up and clear some space for burgeoning beast Derrick Favors.
19. Dell Demps, New Orleans Hornets
Some people talk this guy up but two things stick in my claw – the Eric Gordon max extension (he’s always been injury prone and he didn’t want to be there) and the aborted trade of Chris Paul to the Lakers last offseason, when David Stern bailed him out of a terrible trade that would have condemned them to mediocrity. On the other hand, dumping their big contracts and acquiring Ryan Anderson for scrap were good moves.
18. Glen Grunwald, New York Knicks
Who knows? The guy’s a puppet to whoever is calling the real shots up top in the New York hierarchy. We know one thing – he loves old dudes.
17. Gar Forman, Chicago Bulls
I don’t know if it’s because of Forman (and John Paxson – VP of Basketball Operations) or their stingy owner Jerry Reinsdorf, but the Bulls have been risk averse for some time now (I probably answered my own question there). To me, their failure to go after Dwight Howard when they had a huge need and the best package to offer, was staggering. And giving Carlos Boozer a big contract in 2010 and expecting him to be the second banana to Derrick Rose – when all the evidence suggested that he wasn’t up to the job – was beyond foolish. Unless they make changes, they’ve probably maxed out.
16. Kevin Pritchard, Indiana Pacers
He’s just taken the job so it’s hard to judge his recent form. He did some terrific things in Portland though before he was surprisingly canned.
15. Tony, DiLeo, Philadelphia 76ers
Another newbie so we can only judge him on the Bynum trade. It was a gutsy move that needed to be done (it’s not his fault Bynum’s knees have gone to toast – he played 60 games in the lockout season), but he’s still got a hell of a lot of work to do.
14. Danny Ferry, Atlanta Hawks
His poor decision-making in Cleveland saddled LeBron James with a crappy cast, which cost them a title (and ultimately LeBron). BUT, he just miraculously cleaned house in Atlanta by convincing some moron in Brooklyn to take on Joe Johnson’s albatross contract, and ditto (in Utah) for the insipid Marvin Williams. To that, I bow down.
13. Chris Grant, Cleveland
I like what they’re doing; they have a clean cap sheet going forward, a young superstar in Kyrie Irving and a possible running mate for him in Dion Waiters. The Tristan Thompson selection last year was a head-scratcher and I still don’t understand why they don’t cash-in Anderson Varejao, but all in all some nice work.
12. Rich Cho, Charlotte Bobcats
As far as I can tell he hasn’t made any mistakes yet (except not kissing Paul Allen’s arse). He made the right decision selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at pick 2 in the 2012 draft, and he hasn’t taken on any cap killing contracts.
11. Bob Myers, Golden State Warriors
Since taking the job early this year he’s made some very good moves – getting three good players in the draft, stealing Carl Landry in free agency and trading for Jarrett Jack. Impressive.
10. Chris Wallace, Memphis Grizzlies
He’s made some really good moves (nabbing Marc Gasol in the Pau trade) and really bad ones (drafting Hasheem Thabeet at no. 2) over the years, but Memphis is now a surprisingly good team that could contend if things break their way. Not bad, considering they were a shambles a few years back.
9. Masai Ujiri, Denver Nuggets
Smart as a whip and not afraid to shake things up. The only blip on his resume is the five-year, $37 million contract he handed to Wilson Chandler last season. I still don’t get that one.
8. Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics
He consistently whiffs in the draft, but the Celtics are not the powerhouse team they’ve been since 2008 without his imprint.
7. Neil Olshey, Portland Trail Blazers
He’s done some brilliant things (trading for Chris Paul, trading for Eric Bledsoe, drafting Damian Lillard) but I can’t get past the three-year, $24 million deal he handed Caron Butler last year. It made no sense then, and it makes no sense now.
6. Donnie Nelson, Dallas Mavericks
With Mark Cuban’s overbearing presence he doesn’t get a lot of airtime, but their sustained success and shrewd roster moves year after year suggests he knows his stuff.
5. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets
Up until the Harden trade I was skeptical of his work, but boy, did he hit pay dirt on this one. It all makes sense now. And the Asik heist was brilliant.
4. Mitch Kupchak, Los Angeles Lakers
He swung trades for Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, whilst giving up little in return. And he dumped Lamar Odom at the first sign of trouble. Nice work. Extra points for putting up with Jim Buss.
3. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder
He was virtually flawless prior to the Harden trade and minus that he’d probably be my number one. It’s hard to know if pressures from ownership drove the decision, and if it did that’s fine, his hands were tied. By I don’t like the package he got in return. As I’ve previously mentioned, you don’t think Charlotte would have given up Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or the Warriors Klay Thompson, or the Wizards Bradley Beal, to get their hands on Harden?
2. R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs
Apart from the Luis Scola giveaway in 2007 (when they desperately needed a power forward) and the ludicrous $40 million extension handed to Richard Jefferson in 2010, Buford has been superb throughout his 10 year tenure with the Spurs and been a major reason behind their success. He excels in the draft, unearths key role players from the scrap heap and helps facilitate one of the best environments in the NBA. GMs don’t come much better than this.
1. Pat Riley, Miami Heat
He convinced LeBron James and Chris Bosh to come to Miami AND accept less money in the process, which is virtually unheard of today (for elite level players). He’s done the same thing with key role players like Battier, Allen and Lewis, and re-signed his own guys at below market value (Chalmers and Haslem). This guy could sell ice to eskimos.
And he stuck by Erik Spoelstra for two years when everyone was calling for his head, which was clearly the right move.
Pat Riley IS the Miami Heat.