These are my top 5 shitty NBA GMs (or GM Coach combinations). I only seriously thought about 4, because Isiah Thomas is such a natural lock for the #1 spot.
5. Michael Jordan/Sam Vincent, Charlotte Bobcats.
Jordan/Vincent is already a disaster. Two stunningly financially irresponsible trades have destroyed the Bobcats salary cap flexibility and hardly improved the team. Moreover, Vincent, MJ’s handpicked coaching choice, has proven to be a hard-headed manager, which is fine unless you’re trying to radically change the playing style of the team. Vincent decided that Raymond Felton wasn’t a natural PG, pushed him to the SG spot (and even started him at SF!), all without any consideration that the team had no one to replace Felton at the PG spot. Then, as Primoz Brezec indicated in a recent interview, he clashed with players and irrationally deprived a decent center of respectable playing time. Brezec eventually got himself traded and is now on the Raptors, a comparative basketball heaven at this point.
4. John Paxson, Chicago Bulls.
Paxson goes from having an up and coming team to a relative disaster. Inside scoring? Consistent play from guards? Veteran leadership? The coach you started the season with? Now, the team has Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes to hang its hat on. Hughes, you will remember, is the subject of famed internet website heylarryhughespleasestoptakingsomanybadshots.com. This kind of thing should be a gigantic red light. We all defended Paxson’s earlier inactivity by saying that he was stocking up pieces for a big move later on, but now that he completely botched that, what’s left of arguably the league’s most promising team only a year ago? In particular, Paxson should have dealt Ben Gordon. There’s no way you can build a team around a player who is so incredibly streaky, and there doesn’t seem to be a good solution to his impending contract extension.
3. Otis Smith, Orlando Magic.
As Danny has pointed out before, Otis Smith is wasting his opportunity this year. It was abundantly clear that Jameer Nelson was not a quality starting point guard, but Smith gave him a large extension anyways. Nelson is a poor defender, a poor shooter, and a poor penetrator. Why commit to him!!! Why!!! As Danny and Bill Simmons pointed out, to make matters worse, Smith could easily have topped the offer San Antonio made for Kurt Thomas and brought his team needed size and defensive toughness. Instead, he’ll likely let his expiring contracts go for naught, and won’t be able to improve the team as much due to salary cap restrictions. Thanks for nothing, Otis.
2. Chris Wallace, Memphis Grizzlies.
Wallace thoroughly botched the trading deadline. Again, like Danny mentioned earlier, Wallace should have leveraged Pau Gasol to rid himself of Brian Cardinal’s overpriced contract, and possibly add more talent to his roster. Instead, he sold Gasol for next to nothing and tried to foist Cardinal on Mike Miller’s suitors, who (of course) had no reason to bid high considering that Gasol was just had for table scraps. Unless Wallace deals the two sometime this summer, he will have defeated the entire purpose of the Gasol trade by failing to go all the way with the rebuilding project. As you can see, it takes a special kind of idiot to botch things on this level.
1. Isiah Thomas, New York Knicks.
There is no point in attempting to explain the disaster this man has been. I will say this though: he is as bad a GM and Coach as he was a good point guard. That’s saying a lot.
Honorable Mention: Billy Knight, Hawks- Yeah, I know he’s doing a decent job now, but just imagine how monumentally badly he screwed up by taking Marvin Williams over Chris Paul (who WANTED to play for the Hawks) and Shelden Williams over Brandon Roy and/or Rudy Gay. Also deserves some blame for their complete inability to add any quality size other than Zaza and Horford over the past 5 years- even one depth big would help significantly.
5. Isiah Thomas, Knicks- Isiah has done many things wrong in his time at Madison Square Garden, but at least he is absolved of some blame because of how terrible the Knicks’ situation was when he took over and the fact that he has actually drafted well. I’ve written at length about him, so I’ll leave that as/is.
4. Danny Ferry/John Paxson, Cavs- This two-GM (Ferry and his predecessor) have an astonishing asset in LeBron James, the type of guy who players would love to play with, yet they have put nearly no-one of legitimate substance around him in five years. Now, I like Z as much as the next guy, but other than Boobie Gibson and the recent trade they have done a terrible job.
3. Otis Smith, Magic- Honestly, it takes effort to do as badly as Smith has done (with one notable exception, of course). Drafting Dwight Howard was phenomenal, but heinously overpaying Rashard Lewis (and giving up a pick to do it) and giving Jameer Nelson an undeserved big money extension has basically hamstrung the Magic for the foreseeable future despite a complete lack of a starter-quality 1, 2, and 4, coupled with a complete lack of size other than Superman and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
2. Michael Jordan, Bobcats- OK: Imagine a team that is a complete blank slate, except for Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. This team has cap space, some young talent, and the possibility of plenty of draft picks. Good. Now, imagine drafting Adam Morrison over Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay, trading away the #8 pick in the 2007 Draft, and taking all of the potential cap space with Jason Richardson and Matt Carroll (who is signed for SIX YEARS). Basically, they went from a potential-stocked organization to a middling team in the East with little potential upward growth and the possibility of losing Okafor. And that’s not even mentioning the move of expiring contracts for Nazr Mohammed’s killer deal…
1. Chris Wallace, Grizzlies- He would have been #1 before today, but Pat Riley revealed this morning that he was willing to take on Brian Cardinal’s contract to get Mike Miller. They could have given up only expiring contracts for them (with the most logical deal to me being Jason Williams, Ricky Davis, and Dorrell Wright for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Kyle Lowry, to balance it out). Of course, the man who already ruined the Celtics was unimpressed with that move, despite trading Pau freaking Gasol for cap space and a small amount of young talent. Words cannot describe how bad he is at his job.