All-time NBA GM rankings

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  1. SlyPokerDog

    SlyPokerDog Woof! Staff Member Administrator

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    In all-time NBA GM rankings, one legendary name trumps all the rest
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    Because, I don’t know, like the Bible says, you ain’t gonna get a second chance … what you need is a manager.

    — Mickey Goldmill, asking Rocky Balboa to let him have one last crack at the big time, “Rocky”

    Sometimes, readers ask dumb questions that try my patience. Why can’t the Knicks trade a second-round pick to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook? Hey, it would be a high pick! Thankfully, though, some questions are interesting.

    Last week, Katy Ng asked a question that no one had ever asked me before, and we’ve been doing this a long time:

    Who do you think the best General Managers (say, top 10) in NBA history are?

    And I thought that was a heck of a question.

    How does one determine excellence in a job that has no specific description, yet is essential to a successful franchise? The GM does so many things, yet his or her role is wildly different depending on the franchise, and what the owner allows. Some teams have a distinct separation of church and state between the GM and the coach: the GM and his staff, including the analytics group, handle everything off the floor, from scouting to trades to the Draft, and the coach works with the players they give them. (Consensus is sought in almost all cases, no good GM is going to give his or her coach a player the coach cannot stand.)

    This is how Boston does it, with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge running the front office, and Brad Stevens handling the on-court product. In other organizations, the coach has final say on everything — like Stan Van Gundy in Detroit and Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota. And in places like San Antonio, there’s a hybrid structure, with Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford jointly making the calls.

    But the best ever? Hey, it’s a list; doesn’t mean I’m right. So, let’s rank ‘em, from 10 to 1.

    Among the honorable mentions are:

    • Mitch Kupchak, who was the Lakers’ GM for 23 years, and rebuilt the team around Kobe Bryant after the Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal to Miami in 2004. Kupchak drafted Andrew Bynum, who played his best ball in L.A., then traded for Pau Gasol in 2008. Gasol became the partner Bryant craved, and the Lakers won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
    • Joe Dumars built a championship Pistons team as GM without the benefit of a single Lottery pick; he traded for Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace, signed Chauncey Billups when no one around the league thought he could be an elite guard, drafted Tayshaun Prince 23rd overall in the 2002 Draft and showed an acumen for picking coaches by hiring, in succession, Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. Brown took the Pistons over the finish line in ’04 and Detroit made the Finals again the following season. Dumars’ teams made six straight Eastern Conference finals between 2002 and 2008.
    • Donnie Nelson pushed the Mavericks to take a skinny German kid named Dirk Nowitzki in the 1998 Draft, and Dallas maneuvered a deal with Milwaukee that brought the Diggler stateside. And Nelson, who’s had final say on personnel in Dallas since 2005, made a lot of good moves in building around Nowitzki — trades that brought in Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion, among others, which culminated in a Dallas run to the 2011 NBA title, beating the heavily favored Heat. The Mavs were formidable for more than a decade, averaging 56 wins between 2000 and 2011. Nelson was a vanguard in finding talent in Europe and elsewhere around the world, starting with his recruitment of guard Sarunas Marciulionis from Lithuania to the Warriors in the early ‘90s.
    10. Pat Williams, Philadelphia 76ers: In separate stints in Philly, Williams first brought big crowds to Sixers home games at the old Spectrum by bringing in show business elements between whistles, such as Victor the Wrestling Bear and other sideshows, with Williams taking the lessons he learned running minor league baseball teams, and from his friend, legendary White Sox owner Bill Veeck. After spending five years as GM of the Bulls and Hawks, Williams returned to Philly in 1974, and he built the 76ers into an NBA champion, starting with the acquisition of Julius Erving from the Nets, drafting point guard Mo Cheeks in the second round of the 1978 Draft, Andrew Toney — “The Boston Strangler”in the first round in 1980, and trading for Moses Malone in 1982, creating the “Fo-Fo-Fo” team that lost just one playoff game en route to the 1983 championship.

    Williams then joined the expansion Orlando Magic in 1986 and presided over the construction of the Magic into a title contender behind Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway.

    9. Jack McCloskey, Detroit Pistons: The late “Trader Jack” was hired by Detroit in 1979, the Pistons were nearing the end of a three-season stretch when they went 84-162. In the next decade, McCloskey brought numerous future Hall of Famers to the Motor City, starting with Isiah Thomas, the second pick of the 1981 Draft. McCloskey then traded for center Bill Laimbeer in 1982. In 1983, he hired Chuck Daly as coach. In ’85, he drafted little-known Joe Dumars from McNeese State. In ’86, McCloskey drafted an even more obscure forward from Southeastern Oklahoma State in the second round, after taking John Salley in the first. The forward was Dennis Rodman. That summer, McCloskey traded for Adrian Dantley from Utah — and in ’89, he dealt Dantley to Dallas for Mark Aguirre. That decade-long roll by McCloskey built one of the great teams of the decade, one that won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990, and made five straight conference finals.

    8. Louis Mohs, Los Angeles Lakers: Very few today will recall the name. Mohs was a former football player (who played in the nascent days of the NFL in the ‘20s) and a newspaperman who was given the reigns of the Lakers in 1960. Owner Bob Short was moving his franchise from Minneapolis, where Mohs had worked for papers in the Twin Cities in circulation, and needed someone on the ground in L.A. to run the team. That, Mohs did. He drafted Jerry West in 1960 with the No. 2 overall pick to team with fellow future Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, and hired West’s college coach, Fred Schaus, to coach him in the pros. Equally importantly, Mohs was instrumental in helping to build interest in the Lakers in their early days in L.A., when they ran a distant third behind the Dodgers and Rams. Behind West, Baylor and Schaus, the modern Lakers’ franchise emerged, making four Finals in the team’s first six seasons out West. Because they never won a championship, a lot of people have forgotten Mohs’s role in the franchise’s storied history.

    7. Jerry Colangelo, Phoenix Suns: In 27 years as the Suns’ GM, beginning with the team’s expansion season in 1968, Colangelo built several outstanding teams, almost always entertaining to boot, and was named NBA Executive of the Year four times. The Suns made the Finals in 1976 and in ’93, with Colangelo engineering trades in each case that brought difference-makers — Paul Westphal in ’75; Charles Barkley in ’92 — to the Valley of the Sun. He took on even bigger responsibilities in 1987 when he put a group together that bought the Suns, making him the team’s principal owner. There is no way that the NBA would have gone to Phoenix, or stayed there, if not for Colangelo’s impact.

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    He sold the team to Robert Sarver for $401 million in 2004, but has had a third act along two tracks. Chosen managing director of USA Basketball in 2005 after embarrassing performances both at the World Cup of Basketball in 2003 and the 2004 Summer Olympics, Colangelo was given complete carte blanche to select the team himself and to improve USAB’s relationships with Nike and other big players in basketball. He hired Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski as coach and engaged the NBA’s biggest stars, restoring their desire to play internationally both to honor their country and as participants in one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. Since Colangelo’s ascension, the U.S. men have gone 88-1, winning the ’08, ’12 and ’16 gold medals at the Olympics, and the ’10 and ’14 World Cups. As Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Colangelo has implemented several innovations since being elected chair in 2009, including direct election to the Hall for numerous players and contributors both from the ABA and from the pre-NBA early African-American teams.

    6. Wayne Embry, Milwaukee Bucks/Cleveland Cavaliers: The first African-American to get the opportunity to run teams, and a two-time NBA Executive of the Year (1992 and ’98), Embry put competitive contending teams on the floor for two decades, in markets where he had next to no chance of luring free agents. Hired as the special assistant to the president in Milwaukee in 1970 after playing his last NBA season for the Bucks, it was Embry who convinced his former Cincinnati Royals teammate Oscar Robertson to accept a trade to Milwaukee. With the veteran Robertson and a young and dominant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Bucks won it all in 1971. Embry formally got the Bucks’ GM job in 1972, but quickly had to adjust the roster on the fly when Abdul-Jabbar asked for a trade out of town the following year.

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    Embry dealt Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers in 1975, getting a package that included the first pieces to a new Bucks contender in guards Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters. Embry gave Don Nelson his first coaching job as well, bringing him to Milwaukee as an assistant coach. Embry’s 1967 and ’77 Drafts brought in Quinn Buckner and Marques Johnson, but after Nelson became head coach in 1976, he and Embry had a falling out over personnel and control, and Embry stepped down as GM in 1978. Nonetheless, with Embry’s players and coach serving as the Bucks’ new foundation, Milwaukee averaged 55 wins a season from 1980-87.

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    Embry then served as an advisor to the Pacers, and was hired as the Cavs’ GM in 1986. Embry had not even officially been hired when he advised Cleveland’s owners to pull the trigger on a deal that brought center Brad Daugherty, the top pick in that year’s Draft, from Philadelphia. Embry then drafted guard Ron Harper and again advised his new bosses to get the Draft rights to guard Mark Price, a second-round pick in ’86. Cleveland then added forward John (Hot Rod) Williams, whom the Cavs had taken the year before, but who was not allowed to sign until he was cleared of any wrongdoing in a point shaving scandal at his college, Tulane University. The next year, Embry hired Lenny Wilkens as coach, and acquired Larry Nance in a trade with Phoenix for guard Kevin Johnson, whom Embry had drafted in the first round in ’87. The whirlwind of moves almost immediately turned the Cavs into a juggernaut. Cleveland went from 31 wins to 57 in two seasons, and made the playoffs eight times in nine years, including the Eastern Conference finals in 1992.

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    Daughtery made five All-Star teams and Price made four. But, like everyone else in the conference during that generation, Cleveland couldn’t beat Jordan. As the team aged, Embry again rebuilt a playoff team, this time behind guard Terrell Brandon, forwards Chris Mills, Danny Ferry and the late Bobby Phills, and young center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, another Embry first-rounder taken in 1996. Embry went to Toronto in 2004, where he’s held a variety of roles, most recently the Raptors’ senior advisor.

    5. Pat Riley, Miami Heat: After winning four titles as coach of the Showtime Lakers in the ‘80s, and making the Knicks into a rugged, take-no-prisoners outfit that gave Michael Jordan’s Bulls their greatest playoff competition, “Riles” nonetheless was unsatisfied when he faxed in his resignation as Knicks’ coach in 1995. He wanted complete control of a franchise, and Miami owner Micky Arison gave it to him, naming him president and head coach of the Heat in 1995.

    Riley quickly pumped life into what was thought to be an impossible market for pro basketball; just a couple of months into his tenure in Miami, he acquired All-Star center Alonzo Mourning from Charlotte, and built a contender around the future Hall of Famer. The Heat couldn’t get past the Bulls in the playoffs, though, and Riley resigned as coach in 2003. But he was still in charge, which he proved that summer a year later by prying Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers. With Dwyane Wade, who Riley drafted in 2003, the Heat again rose to the top of the East. Riley went back to the bench in 2005 after Stan Van Gundy resigned (there’s always been some sentiment that Stan Van jumped before he was pushed), and Riley won a fifth ring as a coach in 2006. Yet he quickly deconstructed that team, too, setting forth his most audacious plan — luring LeBron James from Cleveland in 2010 to form a super team on South Beach, and being willing to patiently wait for three years for the chance. And Riley pulled it off, getting James and adding Chris Bosh from Toronto with Wade to create the Super Friends — which won it all in 2012 and ’13, and made The Finals the other two years James was in town before going back home in 2014.

    4. Jerry Krause, Chicago Bulls: Bouncing back and forth between baseball and basketball throughout five decades as a scout and executive, Krause’s road to NBA fame came in his second stint running the Bulls, starting in 1985. The Bulls had already drafted Michael Jordan, but Chicago didn’t have much surrounding him. Krause changed that, and built one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.

    On Draft night 1987, he acquired the rights to a little-known former manager of his basketball team from Central Arkansas named Scottie Pippen, then took power forward Horace Grant with the 10th pick overall. (With the 1989 first-rounder that Krause got from Seattle as part of the Pippen trade, he took guard B.J. Armstrong.) Krause then ensured Jordan’s animus by trading his friend and on-court protector, rugged Charles Oakley, to New York for center Bill Cartwright. In just a few month’s time, Krause altered the trajectory of his club to due north. Pippen and Grant became the league’s best pair of two-way forwards, versatile and lethal defensively while also being able to contribute at the other end. A Krause favorite, guard John Paxson, became a clutch shooter. Jordan, of course, was Jordan. And Krause’s greatest decision, hiring Phil Jackson as an assistant coach and then promoting him to coach in 1991, was the final master stroke. Jackson challenged Jordan’s individual instincts, insisting he could still dominate and win while trusting his teammates to hold up their end of the bargain. And that group coalesced, finally vanquishing arch-rival Detroit in 1991 en route to the first of six NBA titles in eight seasons. Jordan famously went on a two-year baseball sabbatical in ’94 and ’95, but when he returned to the NBA, Krause had put another stellar group of role players around him, starting with the unlikely Dennis Rodman. But Rodman, center Luc Longley and guard Steve Kerr all filled their roles perfectly, and the Bulls pulled off a second threepeat from 1996-98. It wasn’t all Krause’s doing, but it wouldn’t have happened without him.

    3. Gregg Popovich/R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs: It’s hard to know where Pop ends and Buford begins, but they’ve been in charge in San Antonio for two decades and the proof is in the winning: the Spurs have five NBA titles since the two of them came to town, and they’ve been the winningest team in all of professional sports during that time. Yes, Pop and Buford were the decided beneficiaries of having consecutive Hall of Fame big men in David Robinson and Tim Duncan in San Antonio. That cannot be ignored. But they’ve nonetheless found not only the right talent to surround them, but people with the right temperament.

    The Spurs not only were among the first teams to go around the world for players, but were the first to understand that finding that kind of cultural, historical and emotional diversity was a goal in and of itself. The Spurs have reinvented themselves so many times I’ve lost count (Halfcourt Defense Strangler Spurs became Feed Duncan Spurs became Pace-and-Space Spurs became Kawhi Postup Spurs), but they always manage to see the curve before everyone else. Take Becky Hammon, a great player who was rehabbing an injury in San Antonio at the end of her career. It’s not that Popovich and Buford were any smarter in seeing that Hammon knew the game; that was obvious. What they did see was that her perspective, her ability to teach, her ability to lead and her ability to fit in despite her pedigree meant her gender was not only not disqualifying, it was a positive. There will surely come an end to San Antonio’s run as the standard all other NBA organizations seek to emulate (Oklahoma City, Utah, New Orleans, Indiana … so many teams have Spurs tentacles). But for two decades, the Spurs’ market size hasn’t mattered. Their “boring” style hasn’t mattered. Their lack of controversy hasn’t mattered. There are, always, R.C. and Pop, joined at the hip, disagreeing when they no doubt do on occasion in private, setting the tone. Everything else falls into place.

    2. Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers: Some have won more titles as players or executives, but no one in the history of the league has been as great a player andexec as The Logo. He was a Hall of Fame guard for the Lakers; he was a Hall of Fame GM for the Lakers. Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was already there when West joined the team’s front office in 1979, after a three-year stint as coach. And there is considerable anecdotal evidence that West wanted to take Sidney Moncrief with the first overall pick that L.A. had in 1979 instead of Magic Johnson.

    But West was smart enough to be convinced otherwise by his boss, Jerry Buss, and once West was officially named GM in 1982, he spent much of the next decade putting a championship-caliber team around his Hall of Famers — drafting James Worthy in 1982 (and resisting Buss’ desire to trade Worthy to Dallas for Roy Tarpley and Mark Aguirre in 1987); taking Byron Scott out of Arizona State with the fourth pick overall in 1984; drafting A.C. Green near the end of the first round the following year; trading for Mychal Thompson in 1987. Just about every move wasn’t just good, it was great, laying the foundation for the Showtime Lakers.

    They won five titles between ’79 and ’88 and became the equal of the Celtics as the NBA’s signature franchises. After Magic’s HIV disclosure in 1991, and the natural aging of his championship team, West lay low for a couple of years.

    But he came roaring back in 1996. Kupchak was officially the Lakers’ GM by then, but West — officially executive vice president of basketball operations — still had the juice and the final say. He outmaneuvered everyone for an 18-year-old kid from Lower Merion High School in Philly that had, in West’s words, the greatest pre-Draft workout he’d ever seen. Through persuasion, threat, whatever was handy, West got Kobe Bryant. And that summer, he went all in to get free agent behemoth Shaquille O’Neal from Orlando, gambling he could reach the big man. He did. And when the Lakers hired Phil Jackson to coach them, the path was laid for a championship. The Lakers ripped off three straight from 2000-02.

    West left that year to become the GM of the Grizzlies, who’d never done much winning before he got there; he coaxed Hubie Brown out of the TV booth, and Brown won Coach of the Year in 2004, the same year West won his second NBA Executive of the Year award. After leaving Memphis in 2007, West was scarfed up as an advisor by the Warriors in 2011, where he again made his mark by standing firmly against a proposed deal to send Klay Thompson to Minnesota for Kevin Love, and then playing a key role in Golden State’s successful recruitment of Kevin Durant in 2016. After six years with the Dubs, West was off again last summer — back to L.A., where he’ll be Consigliere or anything else that Steve Ballmer needs. Forty-three years afterhe retired as a player, West’s word is still gold around the NBA.

    1. Red Auerbach, Boston Celtics: Auerbach’s reign as the architect of almost all of Boston’s 17 NBA titles remains the standard by which all other bosses are judged. He had complete control over the Celtics roster as the team’s coach and GM from 1950 through 1984 (he retired as coach following the 1966 season, but kept the GM title another 18 years). In his first season in Boston, he reluctantly (Auerbach thought him too small) took Bob Cousy in the dispersal draft of the long-forgotten Chicago Stags. History shines upon the lucky as well. Auerbach drafted Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan and Jim Loscutoff between 1953 and ’55; Ramsey and Hagan became Hall of Famers. Then Auerbach had himself a day on April 30, 1956, the date of that year’s Draft.

    He took Tommy Heinsohn in the first round; Heinsohn went on to the Hall of Fame. He took K.C. Jones in the second round; Jones went on to the Hall of Fame. Then, Auerbach traded Hagan and Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks for the Draft rights to William Felton Russell, out of the University of San Francisco. Look at that again: Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Bill Russell. In one day. All those maneuverings, added with a couple of other shrewd moves, like drafting John Havlicek in 1962, created the league’s greatest dynasty, a team that won nine NBA championships in a row between 1958 and 1967, and 11 titles in 13 seasons. That run alone would make Auerbach the best executive ever.

    Except he was just getting started.

    In 1968, he drafted Don Chaney. In 1969, he drafted JoJo White. In 1970, he drafted Dave Cowens. He got Paul Silas in a trade in 1972. With Heinsohn now coaching, the Celtics won two more titles in 1974 and 1976. That’s 13 rings that Auerbach was directly responsible for bringing to Beantown. And, he wasn’t done yet.

    In 1978, Auerbach took a “junior eligible” player with the sixth pick in the Draft. The player had the right to return to college for his senior season under the existing rules, and the Celtics had a year to sign him; if they failed to do so, he’d go back into the 1979 Draft. Auerbach finally got him to commit to Boston after he’d taken his team to the NCAA national championship game. Larry Bird was worth the wait. With Bird on the team, the Celtics went from 29-53 in 1978-79 to 61-21 the following year, losing to Philly in the Eastern Conference finals. That year, Auerbach pulled off what might have been his greatest sleight of hand.

    He had traded Bob McAdoo, a prodigious scorer, to the Detroit Pistons in 1979, in exchange for forward M.L. Carr and Detroit’s first-round pick in 1980. Unfortunately for Detroit, its season fell apart; the Pistons fired their head coach, a gent named Dick Vitale, and won only 16 games in ’79-’80. Their pick became the first pick overall in the Draft, and Boston now had it. Which meant Auerbach had something up his sleeve. He found his quarry in Oakland, where the Warriors had a young but inconsistent center named Robert Parish that Auerbach wanted. So he dealt the first overall pick to the Warriors for Parish and their first-round pick, which was third overall. With that pick, Auerbach drafted…Kevin McHale. Of course, Bird, Parish and McHale all wound up in Springfield.

    With his “Big Three” in place for Coach Bill Fitch (and, later, K.C. Jones), and guard Dennis Johnson, yet another acquisition of Auerbach’s, in 1983, the Celtics won three more titles in the ‘80s; that made a total of 16 championships over a 28-year stretch for which Auerbach was directly responsible. He had acquired every player. He had coached most of them. He was the first NBA exec to draft an African-American player (Chuck Cooper, in 1950: he was the first NBA exec to hire an African-American as head coach (Russell, who was player-coach his last three NBA seasons, from 1966 to 1969).

    Arnold Auerbach knew how to put great teams together, because he had a way with people. Nobody’s done as well before or since.

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    MORE MORNING TIP: 24 questions for 2017-18 | DA’s Top 15 Rankings | DA’s Mailbag: Kobe over LeBron?

    * * *

    Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

    The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
     
  2. SlyPokerDog

    SlyPokerDog Woof! Staff Member Administrator

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    The Greatest NBA GMs of All Time
    By Eric Ortiz and Derek Tahara on July 31, 2019
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    Red Auerbach was the Boston Celtics' general manager from 1950 to 1984 and built 15 NBA championship teams.Boston34Celtics/YouTube
    They're not players, coaches or owners. But in the NBA, front-office executives have an important role.

    The executives who make player personnel decisions — also known as the general manager — are the architects of the team. They decide who to draft, sign in free agency and trade to construct rosters that are built for winning championships.

    Entering the 2019-20 season, 283 executives have been in charge of player personnel decisions in NBA history. These are the best.




    Honorable Mention: Jon Horst
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    Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst in 2017.Morry Gash/AP Photo
    Teams: Milwaukee Bucks

    GM experience: 2 seasons (2017-present)

    Record as GM: 104-60 (.634)

    Playoff appearances: 2

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Jon Horst is young, smart and hungry. In his first two seasons running the Bucks, the team has won 60 games in a season, finished with the best record in the league and got within two games of beating the NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals.

    Most importantly, the 36-year-old Horst has created a winning culture in Milwaukee. He fired Jason Kidd and hired Mike Budenholzer (a former Spurs assistant on Gregg Popovich's staff) and surrounded the team's star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, with shooters and long, athletic players.

    It's too soon to christen Horst a great, but the reigning NBA executive of the year might not be too far away from greatness.

    FEATURED VIDEO




    30. Geoff Petrie
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    Sacramento Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie in 2006.Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
    Teams: Sacramento Kings

    GM experience: 20 seasons (1994-2013)

    Record as GM: 721-789 (.477)

    Playoff appearances: 9

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Being an NBA executive is a tough job, but the job can bring added stress for former players, who are used to controlling the outcome of games with moves on the court. Geoff Petrie learned how to make an impact off it.

    The 1971 co-rookie of the year out of Princeton and a two-time All-Star, Petrie joined the Kings in 1994 and turned the struggling franchise into a contender in the early 2000s. If not for the Shaq-Kobe Lakers and some questionable officiating in 2002, the Kings might have been the actual kings of the NBA.

    Though Petrie was unable to get Sacramento to the promised land, he was executive of the year twice (1999, 2001) and achieved a lot in a small market.








    29. Sam Presti
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    Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti in 2019.Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo
    Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder

    GM experience: 12 seasons (2007-present)

    Record as GM: 538-348 (.607)

    Playoff appearances: 9

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Good thing Sam Presti has a strong constitution.

    Presti drafted Kevin Durant (2007), Russell Westbrook (2008) and James Harden (2009). Now all three former NBA MVPs are no longer on the Thunder, and neither is Paul George.

    But Presti — whose teams have lost in the Western Conference finals twice and NBA Finals once — still has a playoff-caliber roster. Can he build a champion in a win-now league?












    28. Wayne Embry
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    Wayne Embry announces his resignation as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976.AP Photo
    Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors

    GM experience: 20 seasons, Milwaukee (1972-77), Cleveland (1986-99), Toronto (2006)

    Record as GM: Milwaukee (225-185, .549), Cleveland (564-470, .545), Toronto (27-55, .329)

    Playoff appearances: 12

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Wayne Embry was a pioneer. After a solid 11-year NBA career as a player, Wayne Embry became the first black general manager and team president in professional sports history.

    The closest he got to winning a championship as a GM was in 1974, when the Bucks lost to the Celtics in seven games, but he helped turn the Cavaliers into perennial contenders in the late 1980s to mid-1990s, and his Cavs teams finished above .500 in 10 of his 13 seasons in the front office.

    In 1999, the two-time executive of the year was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game.




    27. Larry Bird
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    Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird in 2016.Darron Cummings
    Teams: Indiana Pacers

    GM experience: 13 seasons (2003-12, 2013-17)

    Record as GM: 642-571 (.529)

    Playoff appearances: 8

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Just as Larry Legend worked hard to master his craft as a Hall of Fame player, he put in work to master his job running an NBA team. But the former Celtic great had an up-and-down tenure as an executive for his hometown Indiana Pacers.

    Despite some hits (drafting Danny Granger and Paul George), he had one big miss: trading Kawhi Leonard (along with Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek) to the Spurs for George Hill on draft day in 2011. We'll never know how devastating a George-Leonard combination would have been. Oh, wait.

    On the flip side, Bird is the only person in league history to be voted MVP, coach of the year and executive of the year.




    26. Daryl Morey
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    Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in 2011.Pat Sullivan/AP Photo
    Teams: Houston Rockets

    GM experience: 12 seasons (2007-present)

    Record as GM: 596-372 (.616)

    Playoff appearances: 10

    NBA Titles: 0

    Bottom line: Numbers don't lie. But they don't guarantee NBA titles, either.

    Daryl Morey, who went to MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founded the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2007, was ahead of the curve in using analytics in the NBA. He has won big deals. And his basketball philosophy, or "Moreyball," which is predicated on shooting 3's and layups over midrange jumpers, has produced some big wins.

    Just not the biggest. At least not yet.




    25. Bob Weinhauer
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    Former Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks general manager Bob Weinhauer.Jonathan Doughty/YouTube
    Teams: Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks

    GM experience: 4 seasons, Houston (1994-96), Milwaukee (1997-99)

    Record as GM: Houston (153-93, .622), Milwaukee (97-117, .453)

    Playoff appearances: 3

    NBA Titles: 1 (1995)

    Bottom line: A good GM knows when to gamble and when to not mess with a good thing. Bob Weinhauer took over as the Rockets' general manager in 1994, the season after Houston won its first NBA title, and he rolled the dice to make the team better.

    Weinhauer traded Otis Thorpe for Clyde Drexler, left Hakeem Olajuwon and the core of the team intact, and the Rockets won back-to-back championships. The honeymoon for the Rockets did not last long, and the team lost in the Western Conference semifinals the following season.

    Before Weinhauer left town, he made one more blockbuster, acquiring Charles Barkley from the Suns for Charles Chucky Brown, Mark Bryant, Sam Cassell and Robert Horry. In Milwaukee, Weinhauer kept wheeling and dealing, but he didn't find much success and has the dubious distinction of trading Dirk Nowitzki for Robert Traylor.




    24. Dick Vertlieb
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    Golden State Warriors general manager Dick Vertlieb in 1974.Gio Caringal/Facebook
    Teams: Seattle SuperSonics, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers

    GM experience: 4 seasons, SuperSonics (1968-69), Warriors (1974-76), Pacers (1980-81)

    Record as GM: SuperSonics (30-52, .366), Warriors (107-57, .652), Pacers (44-38, .537)

    Playoff appearances: 3

    NBA titles: 1 (1975)

    Bottom line: Dick Vertlieb made his time as a general manager count.

    In four NBA seasons, he ran three teams, hired Lenny Wilkens to coach the Sonic and won an NBA title with the Warriors. Wilkens won 1,332 games in his NBA coaching career, and the Dubs didn't win another title for another 40 years.

    In 1977, Vertlieb also was the first GM of the Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball. Not too bad a legacy.




    23. Don Nelson
    [​IMG]
    Dallas Mavericks general manager Don Nelson in 1997.Tim Sharp/AP Photo
    Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks

    GM experience: 23 seasons, Milwaukee (1977-87), Golden State (1987-95), Dallas (1997-2002)

    Record as GM: Milwaukee (513-307, .626), Golden State (309-347, .471), Dallas (189-189, .500)

    Playoff appearances: 16

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Marques Johnson. Sidney Moncrief. Mitch Richmond. Tim Hardaway. Tyrone Hill. Chris Gatling. Latrell Sprewell. Chris Webber. Dirk Nowitzki. Josh Howard. Those are all players Don Nelson drafted or acquired via trade. And they all became All-Stars.

    Nellie, who won five NBA rings as a player, knew the game as well as anybody. While his teams could put up points, they never played enough defense to put up NBA championship banners in Milwaukee, Golden State or Dallas.

    Don't worry about Nelson signing the blues, though. Now, he has a weed farm on Maui to grow his own green for medicinal purposes.




    22. Jack Ramsay
    [​IMG]
    Jack Ramsay coaching the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977.Rusty Kennedy/AP Photo
    Teams: Philadelphia 76ers

    GM experience: 4 seasons, (1966-1970)

    Record as GM: 227-100 (.694)

    Playoff appearances: 4

    NBA titles: 1 (1967)

    Bottom line: Dr. Jack is a basketball legend, but even legends aren't perfect. After winning the NBA title in his first season with the Sixers and getting to the division finals in his second, Jack Ramsay was forced to trade Wilt Chamberlain for a bag of balls and some peanuts.

    Ramsay then took over as Philly's head coach, and pulled double duty in the front office and on the sidelines for two seasons, before focusing full-time on coaching for the rest of his career.

    That decision was one of the best moves Ramsay, one of the game's greatest visionaries and teachers, ever made on his way to the Hall of Fame.




    21. Jerry Colangelo
    [​IMG]
    Jerry Colangelo in 1997.Jeff Robbins/AP Photo
    Teams: Phoenix Suns

    GM experience: 27 seasons (1968-1995)

    Record as GM: 1205-1009 (.544)

    Playoff appearances: 17

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Jerry Colangelo was the youngest general manager in professional sports when he became the first GM of the expansion Suns in 1968 at the age of 28. Although he lost a 1969 coin flip with the Milwaukee Bucks for the right to draft UCLA star center Lew Alcindor (who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Colangelo bounced back and steered the Suns to success.

    Under his watch, Phoenix finished .500 or better in 17 seasons and reached the NBA Finals twice — losing in six games both times, to the Boston Celtics in 1976 and the Chicago Bulls in 1993.

    Along the way, he won four NBA executive of the year awards (1977, 1982, 1990, 1994) and became one of the most powerful men in the NBA. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.








    20. Eddie Gottlieb
    [​IMG]
    Philadelphia Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb with Wilt Chamberlain in 1960.AP Photo
    Teams: Philadelphia Warriors/San Francisco Warriors

    GM experience: 11 seasons (1952-63)

    Record as GM: 400-415 (.491)

    Playoff appearances: 7

    NBA titles: 1 (1956)

    Bottom line: Wilt Chamberlain isn't the only Hall of Fame player Eddie Gottlieb drafted. He also picked star players Tom Gola, Guy Rodgers and Nate Thurmond.

    In fact, Gottlieb, who also coached and owned the team, built an NBA champion three years before Chamberlain, one of the most dominant players in NBA history, joined the roster. In 1956, the Warriors toppled the Fort Wayne Pistons with Gola and Paul Arizin running the show. Not sure if that's more a credit to Gottlieb's skills as a team builder or an indictment against Chamberlain's ability to make those around him better.

    What's indisputable is Gottlieb's influence on the game — for over decades, he was chairman of the league's rules committee and made the league's schedule until 1978.




    19. Harry Glickman
    [​IMG]
    Harry Glickman in 1970.Jacob Harris/AP Photo
    Teams: Portland Trail Blazers

    GM Experience: 11 seasons (1970-81)

    Record as GM: 405-497 (.449)

    Playoff appearances: 5

    NBA Titles: 1 (1977)

    Bottom Line: Harry Glickman was the founder of the Portland Trail Blazers and ran the team for its first 11 seasons.

    After some growing pains, Glickman put all of the pieces together, and the Blazers won a championship in 1977 in their first postseason.

    Glickman proved that a small market like Portland could support an NBA franchise and was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.




    18. Ray Patterson
    [​IMG]
    Houston Rockets general manager Ray Patterson in 1983.R.J. Carson/AP Photo
    Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets

    Executive experience: 19 seasons, Milwaukee (1970-72), Houston (1972-89)

    Record as executive: Milwaukee (116-29, .800), Houston (682-732, .482)

    Playoff appearances: 12

    NBA Titles: 1 (1971)

    Bottom line: A little luck never hurt an NBA executive, and good fortune smiled on Ray Patterson, the Bucks' first president.

    In 1969, Patterson worked with then-general manager John Erickson to draft and sign Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), a coup for Milwaukee and the NBA since the upstart ABA wanted the once-in-a-lifetime franchise player. After the Bucks acquired Oscar Robertson from the Cincinnati Royals, Erickson left the team for politics, and Milwaukee won its first NBA title in 1971 with Patterson steering the ship.

    He then moved on to Houston and created a home for basketball in a football state. The Rockets made the playoffs in 11 of Patterson's 17 seasons as GM, including two NBA Finals appearances in 1981 and 1986, as he drafted, traded or signed multiple Hall of Famers, including Moses Malone, Elvis Hayes and Hakeem Olajuwon.




    17. Pat Williams
    [​IMG]
    Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams in 2004.Peter Cosgrove/AP Photo
    Teams: Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic

    GM experience: 24 seasons, Chicago (1969-73), Atlanta (1973-74), Philadelphia (1974-86), Orlando (1987-96)

    Record as GM: Chicago (231-179, .563), Atlanta (35-47, .427), Philadelphia (640-381, .627), Orlando (278-296, .484)

    Playoff appearances: 18

    NBA titles: 1 (1983)

    Bottom line: It's a thin line between winning everything and being relegated to the dustbin of runner-up history. Ask Pat Williams.

    The longtime executive took teams to the NBA Finals five times (four with the 76ers, once with the Magic) in three different decades but won only one title, in 1983 with the 76ers.

    Nevertheless, he accomplished a lot in his GM career. Three of his biggest league-altering moves were purchasing Julius Erving from the New York Nets for the Sixers, drafting Shaquille O'Neal and trading for Penny Hardaway.




    16. Danny Ainge
    [​IMG]
    Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge in 2017.Elise Amendola/AP Photo
    Teams: Boston Celtics

    GM experience: 16 seasons (2003-present)

    Record as GM: 722-573 (.558)

    Playoff appearances: 16

    NBA titles: 1 (2008)

    Bottom line: Only one person has run the Boston Celtics as long as Danny Ainge — Red Auerbach.

    While Ainge is not in the same executive class as Auerbach (not too many people are), the former Celtic has made some big moves that would make Auerbach proud. Most famous are the trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets, and the hirings of Doc Rivers and Brad Stevens as head coaches.

    But the NBA is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and the Celtics haven't won a title since 2008, so the natives are getting restless.








    15. Rod Thorn
    [​IMG]
    Philadelphia 76ers president Rod Thorn in 2011.Matt Rourke/AP Photo
    Teams: Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers,

    GM experience: 15 seasons, Chicago (1978-85), New Jersey (2000-04, 2007-08, 2010), Philadelphia (2010-12)

    Record as GM: Chicago (206-341, .377), New Jersey (208-202, .507), Philadelphia (76-72, .514)

    Playoff appearances: 7

    NBA titles: 0

    Bottom line: Rod Thorn drafted an athletic shooting guard out of North Carolina named Michael Jordan as the third pick in the 1984 draft. Though Thorn never won an NBA title as an NBA executive, he gets credit for choosing the chosen one.

    Thorn saw his most NBA front-office success with the Nets as Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and a young Richard Jefferson led teams to back-to-back NBA Finals in the early 2000s.

    Thorn ended his career with Sixers, but none of his moves in Philly could top the ones he made in Chicago and New Jersey. In 2018, Thorn was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.




    14. David Griffin
    [​IMG]
    New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin.Nuccio DiNuzzo/AP Photo
    Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Pelicans

    GM experience: 3 seasons, Cavaliers (2014-17), New Orleans (2019-present)

    Record as GM: Cleveland (194-134, .591) New Orleans N/A

    Playoff appearances: 3

    NBA titles: 1 (2016)

    Bottom line: David Griffin is just getting started.

    After getting LeBron James back to the Cavaliers, Griffin traded for Kevin Love and made the all other necessary roster moves to give the King everything he needed to fulfill his championship promise to Cleveland.

    Now, Griffin has an opportunity to build an NBA champion in New Orleans with Zion Williamson, another generational talent. The Anthony Davis deal with the Lakers proves Griffin is up to the challenge.




    13. Joe Dumars
    [​IMG]
    Detroit Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars in 2012.Carlos Osorio/AP Photo
    Teams: Detroit Pistons

    GM experience: 14 seasons (2000-2014)

    Record as GM: 595-537 (.526)

    Playoff appearances: 8

    NBA titles: 1 (2004)

    Bottom line: Joe Dumars was an underrated shark with the Pistons — on the court as the player and in the front office as an executive. After becoming the GM of his old team, Dumars showed the same quiet efficiency and killer instinct that made him a two-time NBA champion in Detroit.

    Under Dumars, the Pistons reached the Eastern Conference finals five times (winning twice) and won 50 or more games in seven straight seasons. His crowning achievement was the 2004 championship team that shocked the Lakers, which was built by trading for Ben Wallace, drafting Tayshaun Prince, signing Chauncey Billups as a free agent and trading for Richard Hamilton.

    The Pistons never soared to those heights again with Dumars. But before his tenure ended, he selected Andre Drummond as a lottery pick in 2012.




    12. Jack McCloskey
    [​IMG]
    Former Detroit Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey in 2008.Duane Burleson/AP Photo
    Teams: Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors

    GM experience: 17 seasons, Detroit (1979-92), Minnesota (1992-95), Toronto (2004)

    Record as GM: Detroit (580-486, .544), Minnesota (60-186, .244), Toronto (33-49, .402)

    Playoff appearances: 9

    NBA titles: 2 (1989, 1990)

    Bottom line: Jack McCloskey had some lean early years in Detroit, but he identified talent others did not.

    After hiring Chuck Daly to be the team's head coach in 1983, the Pistons won 46 or more games in nine straight seasons, and McCloskey's trade acquisitions (Vinnie Johnson, Bill Laimbeer, Adrian Dantley, Mark Aguirre) and draft picks (Joe Dumars, John Salley, Dennis Rodman) formed the core of the back-to-back championship teams in Detroit.

    The same success did not follow McCloskey in Minnesota and Toronto, but the "Bad Boys" era in Motown was as bad (meaning good) as basketball gets.




    11. Donnie Nelson
    [​IMG]
    Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson in 2008.Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo
    Teams: Dallas Mavericks

    GM experience: 17 seasons, (2002-present)

    Record as GM: 818-560 (.594)

    Playoff appearances: 13

    NBA Titles: 1 (2011)

    Bottom Line: Donnie Nelson, the son of Don Nelson, succeeded his father in the general manager role with the Mavericks and built teams that won 50 or more games in nine straight seasons.

    Donnie helped the Mavericks get to their first NBA Finals in 2006. Then, he upped the ante, hiring Rick Carlisle as head coach and acquiring Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd in trades. The result in 2011 — an NBA title over the heavily favored Miami Heat — was something even his father never did while running basketball operations for a team.

    It was the first NBA title for Dallas, but it may not be the last for Donnie and crew. With Dirk Nowitzki retiring, a new crop of stars headlined by Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis could make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.




    10. Gregg Popovich
    [​IMG]
    Gregg Popovich coaching the San Antonio Spurs in 2001.Tim Sharp/AP Photo
    Teams: San Antonio Spurs

    GM experience: 8 seasons, (1994-2002)

    Record as GM: 403-221 (.646)

    Playoff appearances: 7

    NBA titles: 1

    Bottom line: One of the greatest NBA coaches of all time also is one of the game's greatest executives.

    Gregg Popovich selected Tim Duncan as the first pick in the 1997 draft, and "The Big Fundamental" became the heir apparent to David Robinson and a foundational piece for a Spurs dynasty. Popovich selected Manu Ginobili with the 57th pick in the 1999 draft, and he turned out to be a future Hall of Famer. Popovich also signed Bruce Bowen and Stephen Jackson, key contributors for future Spurs championship teams.

    But Popovich's all-time greatest move was installing himself as head coach to replace Bob Hill after only 18 games in the 1996-97 season. Twenty-plus years later, Pop hasn't left the bench, and the Spurs have five NBA titles and average close to 50 wins every season.




    9. Masai Ujiri
    [​IMG]
    Masai Ujiri in 2011.Barry Gutierrez/AP Photo
    Teams: Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors

    GM experience: 9 seasons, Denver (2010-13), Toronto (2013-present)

    Record as GM: Denver (145-85, .630), Toronto (321-171, .652)

    Playoff appearances: 9

    NBA titles: 1 (2019)

    Bottom line: Masai Ujiri did not waste any time making a name for himself in the NBA. After proving himself as a scout with the Nuggets and Raptors, Ujiri was hired as Denver's general manager in 2010 and developed a reputation as a smart, bold dealmaker.

    In 2013, the Nigerian who was born in England became the first non-American to win the NBA executive of the year award and signed a five-year, $15 million deal to lead the Raptors' front office. He did such a good job that Toronto gave him an extension with two years on his contract to keep him off the open market.

    His boldest (and best) move was trading the team's top player and a fan favorite, DeMar DeRozan, for Kawhi Leonard in a blockbuster that delivered the Raptors' first title. Now, Ujiri gets to experience the difficulty of staying on top without Leonard, who left town after one season.




    8. Red Holzman
    [​IMG]
    New York Knicks coach and general manager Red Holzman, right, with captain Willis Reed and the world championship trophy in 1970.AP Photo
    Teams: New York Knicks

    GM experience: 5 seasons (1970-75)

    Record as GM: 306-186 (.622)

    Playoff appearances: 6

    NBA titles: 2 (1970, 1973)

    Bottom line: The Knicks are one of nine NBA franchises that have won two or more NBA titles. Red Holzman is a big reason why.

    Holzman coached the team for 14 seasons (1967-77, 1978-82) and was the mastermind behind the Knicks' two titles as the general manager. Holzman took over at GM for Eddie Donovan at the end of the 1970 season, and the Knicks got to the Eastern Conference finals in five straight seasons.

    Holzman's biggest move was trading for Earl "The Pearl" Monroe in the early part of the 1971 season, making Madison Square Garden the place to be in the early 1970s. MSG remains the "Mecca of Basketball," but those Knicks glory days are a long way from today.




    7. Pat Riley
    [​IMG]
    Miami Heat president Pat Riley in 2010.Alan Diaz/AP Photo
    Teams: Miami Heat

    GM experience: 11 seasons (2008-present)

    Record as GM: 523-363 (.590)

    Playoff appearances: 8

    NBA Titles: 2 (2012, 2013)

    Bottom line: Pat Riley has seen everything in the NBA — from winning a ring as a player with the Lakers (1972) to leading a dynasty with the "Showtime" Lakers (1980s) to coaching the Knicks (mid-1990s) to joining the Heat as president and coach (1995) and winning another title in Miami (2006).

    All that experience prepared Riley for his final act as a championship architect. Since 2008, his sole focus has been running the Heat's basketball operations, and in that time, he introduced the NBA to superteams and won back-to-back titles.

    Now with Dwyane Wade retired, it's a new era in Miami, and time will tell if Riley has another title run in him.




    6. Max Winter
    [​IMG]
    Max Winter in 1960.MH/AP Photo
    Teams: Minneapolis Lakers

    GM experience: 6 seasons (1948-54)

    Record as GM: 273-131 (.675)

    Playoff appearances: 6

    NBA titles: 5 (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954)



    Bottom Line: Max Winter was the first general manager of the Lakers (and a part-owner) when the team started playing in Minneapolis in 1948.

    The successful businessman also had the Midas touch in basketball and built the NBA's first dynasty. Under his guidance, the Lakers won the league championship in five of his six seasons as GM.

    After his success in basketball, he helped bring pro football to Minnesota with the Minnesota Vikings.




    5. Bob Myers
    [​IMG]
    Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers in 2012.Paul Sakuma/AP Photo
    Teams: Golden State Warriors

    GM experience: 7 seasons (2012-present)

    Record as GM: 420-154 (.732)

    Playoff appearances: 7

    NBA titles: 3 (2015, 2017, 2018)

    Bottom line: Bob Myers took an uncommon route to run basketball operations for the Warriors, starting his career as a sports agent under Arn Tellem. But the path has led to three championships and a near dynasty.

    Myers has used his mastery of contract negotiation and player recruitment to draft, sign and trade some big names (see: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston and Kevin Durant). However, his biggest move was firing Mark Jackson and bringing in former TNT analyst Steve Kerr to take over as head coach in 2014.

    Put everything together, and Myers is a huge part of the Warriors' success. If not for a historic comeback by the Cavaliers and a KD injury, we might be talking about the reigning champion Warriors with five straight titles.




    4. R.C. Buford
    [​IMG]
    San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford in 2014.Eric Gay/AP Photo
    Teams: San Antonio Spurs

    GM experience: 17 seasons, (2002-19)

    Record as GM: 966-432 (.691)

    Playoff appearances: 17

    NBA titles: 4

    Bottom line: All R.C. Buford does is win. In his 17 seasons as general manager in San Antonio, the Spurs won 50 or more games in 15 straight seasons.

    Some notable moves include his trade of George Hill in the 2015 draft for the 15th pick, which became Kawhi Leonard and another draft pick. Leonard turned out to be pretty good before he was traded to the Toronto Raptors for shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. Buford also signed Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan to contract extensions, added Robert Horry as a free agent, and signed key role players like Danny Green and Patty Mills.

    Buford earned a promotion to Spurs CEO for his work. New GM Brian Wright will have big shoes to fill.




    3. Jerry Krause
    [​IMG]
    Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause in 1993.Fred Jewell/AP Photo
    Teams: Chicago Bulls

    GM experience: 19 seasons (1976, 1985-2003)

    Record as GM: 832-694 (.545)

    Playoff appearances: 13

    NBA Titles: 6 (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)

    Bottom line: Having the greatest player in basketball history is one thing. Maximizing that potential is another. Jerry Krause figured out to get every drop of greatness out of Michael Jordan.

    Although Krause didn’t draft Jordan, he found the right players to fit with Jordan and help the team succeed. Some of those players include Scottie Pippen, John Paxson, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc, B.J. Armstrong, Steve Kerr and Dennis Rodman. Hiring Phil Jackson, an untraditional choice to be an NBA coach, was a stroke of genius, and the perfect yin to Jordan's yang.

    Krause could not keep the train on the championship track forever, but for one brilliant decade in the 1990s, we witnessed near sports perfection.




    2. Red Auerbach
    [​IMG]
    Boston Celtics general manager Red Auerbach, center, with Bill Russell, left, and John Havlicek in 1968.AP Photo
    Teams: Boston Celtics

    GM Experience: 34 seasons, (1950-84)

    Record as GM: 1,738-949 (.647)

    Playoff appearances: 30

    NBA titles: 15

    Bottom line: Red Auerbach was way ahead of his time as a basketball innovator and pioneer. His signature move was getting Bill Russell to the Celtics for his defense, despite the widespread shadow of racism in Boston, in a 1956 deal that involved the Ice Capades and Ed Macauley.

    But that was just one of the countless moves Auerbach made. The Celtics employed a long list of legends — Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale — that dominated the NBA over four decades.

    Of course, the NBA in those early days had fewer teams than the 30 now. That doesn't take away from Auerbach's staggering body of work. While the rest of the league was playing checkers, Auerbach played chess. That's why the Celtics won 15 NBA titles under his watch (including eight in a row and 10 out of 11) and have the most championships in NBA history with 17.




    1. Jerry West
    [​IMG]
    Jerry West in 2017.Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo
    Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies

    GM experience: 23 seasons, Lakers (1982-2000), Grizzlies (2002-2007)

    Record as GM: Lakers (972-472, .673), Grizzlies (194-216, .473)

    Playoff appearances: 20

    NBA titles: 5 (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000)

    Bottom line: Thank former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke for Jerry West becoming the greatest architect in the game. After West's playing days with the Lakers, Cooke encouraged West to coach and be a part of personnel decisions. The rest is basketball history.

    First, West built the "Showtime" Lakers with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and others. Then, he signed Shaquille O'Neal, traded for Kobe Bryant and built the 2000 championship Lakers team. When Phil Jackson arrived, West got pushed out of Lakerland and spent five years in Memphis.

    In 2011, he became an executive board member of the Warriors and served as an adviser, helping recruit Kevin Durant and make other key moves to bring two titles to Oakland in 2015 and 2017.

    Since June 2017, West has been on the executive board of the Clippers. He joined the team because he thinks owner Steve Ballmer is a "winner," and helped land Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. West's next big move is to turn Los Angeles into a Clippers town.

    https://www.stadiumtalk.com/s/greatest-nba-executives-c8c6135b0e8944fe
     
  3. SlyPokerDog

    SlyPokerDog Woof! Staff Member Administrator

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    There have been some discussions about if Olshey is a good GM or not so I figured I would post a couple of articles ranking the all-time great GMs.
     
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  4. SlyPokerCat

    SlyPokerCat cats rool dogs drool

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    Neil Olshey disagrees with this list. His list is:
    1. Neil Olshey
    2. Neil Olshey
    3. Neil Olshey
    4. Neil Olshey
    5. Neil Olshey
     
  5. Chris Craig

    Chris Craig (Blazersland) I'm Your Huckleberry Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Glad to see Glickman and Dr. Jack on there
     
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  6. Strenuus

    Strenuus Global Moderator Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Lol the only list Neil olshey belongs on is the worst gm ever.

    Okay, sorry. 2nd worst ever to the Brooklyn dude. You know why.
     
  7. Fairly-Hard

    Fairly-Hard Well-Known Member

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    Not even the worst GM the Blazers have had let alone ever? The hate is strong in this one?
     
  8. tykendo

    tykendo Don't Tread On PDX

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    When was this story done? Sam Presti (OKC) "has a playoff caliber roster now". Uh NO! Presti has traded away every quality player except Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Dort is a nice young talent, but inconsistent. Time to start trading away those future picks for some real talent to help S G A.
     
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  9. tykendo

    tykendo Don't Tread On PDX

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    So Harry was the GM from 1970 till 1987. But didn't Stu Inman really deal more with the talent side. I'm confused on this. So today is Chris McGowan more of the Glickman role, & Olshey , the Inman role. Or is Neil a combo of both, Glickman & Inman.
     
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  10. SlyPokerCat

    SlyPokerCat cats rool dogs drool

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    Presti is better than Olshey. It isn't close.
     
  11. jlprk

    jlprk The ESPN mod is insane.

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    https://www.hoopsrumors.com/2021/08...te-2022-draft-worst-offseasons-taxpayers.html

    To read the Athletic article, you have to pay for it (I don't). But HoopsRumors tells us what we want to know, that the article ranks Olshey's offseason as #28.

    P.S. Auerbach was a great coach, but I thought he was a mediocre GM and draft evaluator.
     
  12. tykendo

    tykendo Don't Tread On PDX

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    We shall see.
     
  13. illmatic99

    illmatic99 formerly yuyuza1

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    Here is the excerpt. Hard to argue with it really.

    28) Portland Trail Blazers
    2020-21 record: 42-30; lost in first round

    Added: C Cody Zeller (one year, $2.9 million); G Ben McLemore (one year, $2.39 million); F Tony Snell (one year, $2.39 million); F Greg Brown III (draft rights acquired from New Orleans); hired head coach Chauncey Billups

    Lost: F/C Zach Collins (signed with San Antonio); C Enes Kanter (signed with Boston); F Carmelo Anthony (signed with Lakers); did not retain coach Terry Stotts

    Retained: F Norman Powell (five years, $90 million); F Derrick Jones, Jr. (picked up $9.72 player option)

    Extended: None

    Returning from Injury: G Damian Lillard (abdomen)

    The Skinny: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this is not what Dame Time had in mind when he said Portland needs to dramatically improve its roster, though Zeller is a solid pickup, and Snell can shoot. Billups has a chance to be an excellent head coach; he can talk to anybody, he’s got a point guard’s view of the game and he’s going to give it straight to players. And, maybe, Jusuf Nurkic can stay healthy. Portland could also be waiting for the 76ers’ asking price on Ben Simmons to come down to Earth. But it still will be hard for the Blazers to construct a deal with Philly for Simmons under optimal circumstances — unless, of course, that deal is for Lillard. Look, franchise-shifting deals aren’t easy, and they usually don’t come available quickly, even if the team’s superstar wants one; CJ McCollum has trade value, but isn’t an obvious fit everywhere. But even if Portland’s braintrust asked Lillard for and has received time to fix the roster, the Blazers still have cap limitations in 2022. (Given that, it was odd that Portland didn’t/couldn’t buy its way more deeply into the draft, to add a potential immediate contributor.) The purpose of this exercise, though, is to determine how successful an offseason a team has had. Given the circumstances, I can’t say the Blazers have had one.
     
  14. tykendo

    tykendo Don't Tread On PDX

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    It's an opinion from a site i've never heard of. There are probably as many hoops sites as there ever has been. They don't necessarily have any more expertise then many of us. It's not a terrible take, but it's not gospel either. Sounds a lot like it originated in here to be honest. Plus Morey has backed himself in a corner. Time is ticking, and if he's hell bent for leather on brinkmanship, the ending of the Simmons/Sixers relationship could get really Nasty with a little over a month left till training camps open. Even Nat'l Media (Cowherd) thinks CJ/pick for Simmons is about as good as it's going to get for Morey.
     
  15. PtldPlatypus

    PtldPlatypus Global Moderator Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    If you've never heard of "the Athletic", that's more an indictment on you than them.
     
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  16. JoshuaHall

    JoshuaHall Well-Known Member

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    Trader Bob is the GoaT GM
     
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  17. jlprk

    jlprk The ESPN mod is insane.

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    retired, while you work!
    It's a ringer for "The Ringer."
     
  18. Lanny

    Lanny Original Season Ticket Holder "Mr. Big Shot"

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    Did you notice the error in no. 22, Jack Ramsey?

    22. Jack Ramsay
    [​IMG]
    Jack Ramsay coaching the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977.Rusty Kennedy/AP Photo
    Teams: Philadelphia 76ers

    GM experience: 4 seasons, (1966-1970)

    Record as GM: 227-100 (.694)

    Playoff appearances: 4

    NBA titles: 1 (1967)

    Bottom line: Dr. Jack is a basketball legend, but even legends aren't perfect. After winning the NBA title in his first season with the Sixers and getting to the division finals in his second, Jack Ramsay was forced to trade Wilt Chamberlain for a bag of balls and some peanuts.

    Ramsay then took over as Philly's head coach, and pulled double duty in the front office and on the sidelines for two seasons, before focusing full-time on coaching for the rest of his career.

    That decision was one of the best moves Ramsay, one of the game's greatest visionaries and teachers, ever made on his way to the Hall of Fame.

    Hint: NBA titles
     
  19. SheedSoNasty

    SheedSoNasty Well-Known Member

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    is it just referring to his titles won as a GM?
     
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