NBA / Oct 1, 2010 / 3:30 pm

Top 5 Ex-NBA Players Turned Front-Office Executives

Joe Dumars (photo. Detroit News)

Joe Dumars (photo. Detroit News)

Earlier this summer, it was rumored that Donnie Walsh was grooming Allan Houston to become the next general manager of the New York Knicks. Not long after that, team owner James Dolan (briefly) re-hired Isiah Thomas as a part-time consultant, and rumors began to fly that Isiah was being set up to eventually take over for Walsh, who is 69 years old. And as recently as earlier this week, when the Knicks were the subject of NBA TV’s “Real Training Camp,” Houston was interviewed and mentioned as Walsh’s possible successor.

Today, the New York Daily News is reporting that not only is Brooklyn native Chris Mullin in the mix to run the Knicks, he is the guy Walsh wants to get the job. Isiah, Houston and Mullin would have made a nice PG-SG-SF trio in the 1990s — maybe they can play a game of “21” to decide the New York job.

There are a lot of former players who now old high-ranking front office positions in the NBA. John Paxson is making the basketball decisions in Chicago. Larry Bird is with the Pacers. Michael Jordan is the new majority owner of the Bobcats. Many of them were better players than executives, but that’s not always the case. Here are five front office execs whose accomplishment in the boardroom are just as impressive as what they did on the hardwood:

JOE DUMARS — He was Isiah’s right-hand man during the Detroit Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era and has a spot in the Hall of Fame as a player, but Dumars has far exceeded Isiah as an executive. The Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations since 2000, he put together the teams that won an NBA championship in ’04 and ran off six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances. He brought in Chauncey Billups and handed him the keys at PG when Chauncey was still considered little more than a journeyman, he brought in Ben Wallace when he had next to no profile, and he added the volatile Rasheed Wallace to Detroit’s harmonious mix and saw it result in a ring, among other moves.

DANNY FERRY — The No. 2 overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft, Ferry had a forgettable NBA career before he went to the other side of the telephone and started drafting and acquiring players himself. In Cleveland he helped build multiple 60-win teams that LeBron James nearly led to a championship, and now he’s in San Antonio as the VP of Basketball Operations.

PAT RILEY — Some people only know Riley the basketball player because he was on the Kentucky team that lost to Texas-Western in the historic NCAA title game recounted in the film Glory Road. But Riley was a 1st-round NBA draft pick (as well as a NFL draft pick) in 1967, and as a player helped the Lakers win a ring in ’72. He then won five more chips as L.A.’s coach in the ’80s, and as part-owner and president of the Miami Heat, he has a championship from 2006 and this summer put together the D-Wade, LeBron and Bosh triumvirate.

DANNY AINGE — As a player, Ainge was a contributing piece for the Celtics in the ’80s. In the front office, Ainge was named NBA Executive of the Year after the ’07-08 season, when he traded for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and put them with Paul Pierce and draftee Rajon Rondo to bring the Celtics another title. The Celtics were down as an organization for a while, but Ainge has played a big role in bringing back to the NBA’s elite.

JERRY WEST — The 1969 Finals MVP (on a losing team) was “Mr. Clutch” in his playing days, simply one of the greatest ballplayers of all-time. As an exec, West is famous for pulling off the Draft-night trade for Kobe Bryant in ’96, plus luring Shaq to sign with the Lakers in free agency, and building L.A.’s three-peat teams from 2000-02.

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  • jawjack

    You sure missed the boat on this one. How could you leave out Geoff Petrie and include Ferry????!!!

  • Clancy

    Riley was only an assistant on LA’s 1980 championship team. He still got a ring, but was hardly “LA’s coach.”

  • LABaller

    Dumars is OVERRATED! He missed the melo pick..higly over pays one dimensional players and locks himself into a 7th-10th seed team. Come on..he got way too much credit for bringing in sheed who is people remember was on his way outta atl anyyyway! He got lucky w that trade and screwed the pistons royally thereafter.

    Was geoff Petrie a player??

    I think kupchak may deserve some mention? Held off on that bad Kidd trade and kept bynum who he drafted. Stole gasol. Turned useless ass radmanovic into Shannon brown and one of the greatest benchwarmers from a comedic standpoint ever, Morrison. That alone should get him in here!

  • quest???

    you forgot to add that Jerry West landed Pau Gasol on the Lakers….

  • rban

    Other then BG and CV who are the other one demential players he overpays?

    And there not even over paid with with the contracts guys like amir johnson and drew gooden have been getting

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Joe Dumars has done his best work. I’d keep him for one more season to see how his moves look while healthy and if they don’t pan out, cut him loose. Time for a sea change there more than for any other reason.

  • jawjack

    Petrie was Co-ROY with Dave Cowens during the Middle Ages. He was a great player who blew his knee out after a few years.

  • Brooklyn Bulls

    with just a couple of exceptions, former players have done a horrible job in the front office. i used to believe Dumars was 1 of those rare exceptions but he disproved that with his horrible moves since the 03 draft. Finally came to terms with Jordan being just a man a mortal like us all once he stepped in the front ofc…kwame and adam morrison? damn

  • Brooklyn Bulls

    Still cant believe Ferry landed another gig already when all he did was go rummaging for spare parts at random junk yards and garage sales, through them together around lebron and called it a team

  • Heckler

    Danny Ferry is/was a HORRIBLE executive! he wasnt able to do anything in Cleveland. I think he gave Larry Hughes a $50mil contract. he gave Anderson Varejp a $50mil contract. he traded for Ben Wallace and his $60mil contract. nah man, Danny Ferry doesnt deserve to be amongst the best on this list. Pretty shitty track record if you ask me.

    how many times was Danny Ainge (the player) on the losing team in the NBA finals? Didnt he lose twice with Boston, once with Portland (’92) and once with Phoenix (’93)?

    Is Jerry West currently employed by an NBA team? I dont think he is. How can he make this list then? If thats the case, you gotta open up the forum to include FORMER front office execs….

  • dlight

    @ 10
    Check the lOGOOOOO< cube boys