NBA / Jun 10, 2010 / 10:00 am

5 NBA Executives That Need To Go

Everyone always talks about coaches being fired and hired at this time of year. What I find funny is that the men who pull the trigger on those hires and firings — the general managers, VP’s of Basketball Operations, or whatever other title teams have for their top basketball decision makers — often are the ones that need to go. Here are five top-level executives that need to hand over the keys, especially in this all-important summer of 2010:

1. Michael Jordan (Bobcats)
Now that he’s the majority owner, obviously Mike isn’t going anywhere, but he needs to hire someone else to have the final say in Charlotte’s basketball decisions. Jordan has a horrible track record in the front office, dating back to his Washington Wizards days when he took Kwame Brown with the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, and traded a young Rip Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse. In Charlotte he has made even more mind-boggling moves, like trading Matt Caroll for Desagana Diop and taking on the little-used Diop’s 6-year, $32 million deal. He also drafted Adam Morrison ahead of Brandon Roy, and used a first-round pick on Alex Ajinca, who averaged under 5 points per game in France and is on the fast-track to full-blown bust status. Bottom line, MJ needs to remove himself from basketball operations if he wants his team to win.

2. Ed Stefanski (76ers)
As a Nets fan I watched Stefanski develop into one of the premiere basketball scouting guys in the NBA, but in his first job as GM in his hometown of Philly, he’s turned the Sixers into a mess. His first major move was trading Kyle Korver to free up cap space, and Korver has proven to be one of the best shooters in the NBA. With that cap space Stefanski signed Elton Brand to a 5-year, $79 million contract, and Brand has yet to fit in with the Sixers and has yet to return to the star form he showed with the Clippers. Stefanski also overpaid to keep Andre Igoudala, giving him $80 million. Stefanski also signed Allen Iverson last year, which did nothing. (Though that move was probably forced upon him by the Sixers marketing department.)

3. Ernie Grunfeld (Wizards)
Grunfeld is a basketball lifer who knows his stuff, but the way he dismantled the Wizards, his hiring of Flip Saunders, and his strained relationship with Gilbert Arenas (who is still the team’s best player) signal it’s time for Grunfeld to go. I agree with his decision to gut the team and trade Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, but the return he got for those two players was terrible: Troubled and injury-prone Josh Howard in exchange for Butler and Brendan Haywood, and only Al Thornton plus a late first-round pick for Jamison’s 20 points and 10 boards a night. Hiring Flip Saunders and his complicated offensive schemes was a bad idea from the start and proved terrible once the season started.

4. John Paxson (Bulls)
As VP of Basketball Operations, Paxson has been making the calls in Chicago for a while now. He got off to a good start, trading for Luol Deng‘s draft rights and drafting Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich, but recently he’s made some terrible moves. His first really bad one was swapping the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge to Portland for Tyrus Thomas. Now Aldridge is beginning to realize his All-Star potential and is a great sidekick for Brandon Roy, while the Bulls dealt with three and a half years of inconsistency from Thomas before trading him to Charlotte. Paxson also signed an over-the-hill Ben Wallace for 4 years and $60 million, while letting an up-and-coming Tyson Chandler go. Another stain on Paxson’s resume is his decision to hire Vinny Del Negro, who had no prior coaching experience, opening up relentless questioning of Del Negro’s ability and hastening his eventual firing.

5. Larry Bird (Pacers)
I don’t see Bird being fired, but he’s made some very questionable decisions in Indiana. While Bird has been put in a tough position — simultaneously trying to build a good basketball team and rebuild a once loyal fan base — he still hasn’t done enough on either end. The Pacers, despite bringing in a team of “good guys,” are still at the bottom of attendance in the League and their play on the court leaves much to be desired. Bird traded talented scorers Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington away for Mike Dunleavy Jr., who is injured more often than not, and Troy Murphy, a four who likes to shoot threes. He also acquired T.J. Ford, who turned out to be a disaster, and gave Dahntay Jones a 4-year deal at $17 million. The team has a proven star in Danny Granger, but Bird has yet to put the talent around him that will allow the Pacers to get to the playoffs. It’s time to get rid of him.

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  • GayforRudy

    Wow a rare Daniel Marks article that includes cogent thoughts and reasoning. I am impressed by your lack of grammatical errors Danny! How big is Danny? Ssssso big!

    Oh yeah… Blow me!

  • sh!tfaced

    Chris Wallace, David Kahn, Joe Dumars…

  • Brown

    Brian Colangelo will be on this list too once Bosh leaves and they get nothing decent back. He inherited a talent-starved team and even though they may not be as bad as when he arrived, they’re still not any better.

    Any GM who’s simply treading water and making lateral moves should be axed after 2-3 seasons.

  • Bobb23

    I think the only mistake Stefanski made was hiring Eddie Jordan. Ed had made smart basketball moves….Brand’s struggles last year were mostly a product of a bad system. You forgot to mention the draft picks ed has taken with the bad draft positions the sixers have been in. He has been able to find talent in every pick that he has taken.

  • Jules

    yeah but if the Bulls had LaMarcus Alrdrige they probably don’t get Derrick Rose. So I’ll take the setback…also could lead to big things in 2010 so the jury’s still out on Pax.

  • karizmatic

    Yeah I don’t regard signing Elton Brand as a huge mistake although the guy was injury prone…but re signing Iguodala for that money was tough

    I don’t think Grunfeld needs to be fired either the firesale of the Wizards had to be done, and he will be better off if he gets rid of Arenas this upcoming season as well..the hiring of Flip might have been a bad idea…

    Paxson defnitely needs to go not only did he sign Ben Wallace for way too much money, he hired Del Negro and then proceeded to undermine the guy himself, not to mention fighing with him and trying to micromanage him. I think it’s a credit to Del Negro that the Bulls made the playoffs and competed respectably against the Cavs. Paxson probably should have been fired instead of Del Negro.

    What about Chris Mullin in Golden State? Also Kahn should be number one on this list.


    I think Ernie G did in washington deserves a lot of credit, blowing up a team takes some serious balls, and we could all see that the Wiz needed to do it, but he could easily been a pussy and said “next year well have Gil back bla bla bla”

    Being stuck as a mediocre team is worse than just being crappy…… thats why the east sucked for so long, cos every GM thinks they are one tweak away from contending when in truth, they all need to blow their teams the fuck up.

  • thrillah

    In Jordan’s defense, he orchestrated the Stephen Jackson trade as well as convinced Larry Brown to coach the Bobcats, which lead to their first ever playoff appearence.

    Matt Carroll has over 12 million for the next 3 years and let’s face it, he’s steadily declining. Sure Morrison was a horrible pick, but that time he didn’t have full control over team decisions.

    In his short stint with Washington, he did make major mistakes. However, there articles supporting the fact that Jordan didn’t want to draft Kwame Brown but the organization convinced him to draft a high schooler as the first ever #1 pick for promotional value.

    Rip was traded for a proven vet because the fans wanted to win now. All blame falls on Jordan, but I think he’s done a pretty decent job with the Bobcats.

    For some odd reason, I take it personal when Jordan is put on a negative top 5 list. That is all.

  • boomshakalaka

    Good article. Interesting topic. More like this please.

  • JM

    Stefanski is a tough one because most loved the Brand move when it happened, although some thought he should have did more to get Josh Smith. Brand was career 20/10. Hind sight says Josh Smith would be much better fit. Jordan was a bad hire. That was his biggest mistake. The Iverson move was definitely to conjure up some kind of excitement but they basically got him for peanuts. The contract was pro rated and they didn’t pay much for that chance to get one of Philly’s most beloved and polarizing athletes back in town.

    Hopefully they don’t f up this years pick. Need to take Turner. Slide Iggy to his natural 3 spot.

  • Joe’s Momma

    JM is right, the Brand move has supposed to put Philly in the ECF, but hiring Eddie Jordan and the princeton offense was the mistake.

    Simple bball with this team would be the way to go. Run the break on every missed basket, and go down low to Brand when you can’t run n gun.

    Iggy at the 3 is a monster, please don’t get power forward happy and take one of those dudes, grab the best available and take Turner. If anyone else goes #2, that GM should be fired as soon as the pick is announced.

    They need to make a roster move, Thad is better suited to play the 4, he has limited perimeter game but is a darn good player. No one is touching that Brand contract, maybe try to move him for Eddy Curry when the knicks strike out and are left with Boozer in FA. If a team is smart, they should go hard at Lee right away. You know LBJ isn’t going to sign until the end of july, so NY won’t sign anyone else until he is gone.

  • Daniel Marks

    @ sh!tfaced

    Chris Wallace has actually done a decent job as the Gasol trade brought the Griz Marc Gasol who has turned out to be solid. He also drafted OJ Mayo, and got Zach Randolph for relatively nothing so he’s done a decent job considering his owner doesn’t like to spend money.

    David Kahn has made some baffling moves, but he has only been on the job one year, so you kind of have to see if the team shows any improvement, he didn’t inherent much when he took over.

    Dumars should go, Bill Davidson loved him and he did a good job but recently has made some bad decisions like signing Villanueva and Gordon, and also spending 4 mil per yr on Kwame Brown

  • sh!tfaced

    Yeah, your right. Chris Wallace has been good lately. Still can’t get over his “money launderer” rep though. Plus Thabeet and Conley…