Securing three of the league's top free agents in the same offseason has Riley neck-and-neck with GM Gar Forman of the Bulls for the trophy awarded annually to the NBA's best executive, according to votes tabulated by CBSSports.com. With 20 of the NBA's 30 general managers responding to the survey, Riley has eight first-place votes compared to seven for Forman. Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri's expert handling of the Carmelo Anthony trade earned him two first-place votes, while Thunder GM Sam Presti received one. Two GMs responded but declined to disclose their votes.
Some GMs who voted for Forman stipulated that John Paxson, who remained the Bulls' executive vice president of basketball operations when Forman was promoted two summers ago, should receive some of the credit. Chicago voters mentioned how the Bulls front office didn't panic after getting shut out in the James-Wade sweepstakes and instead added Carlos Boozer, who was "a very, very good fit" with point guard Derrick Rose, according to one voter. Forman and Paxson also resisted the urge to trade Luol Deng, and one GM who voted for Forman praised his refusal to become entangled in the Anthony trade sweepstakes -- even after it became known in league circles that Chicago was one of the teams Melo would extend his contract with if traded.
"They played well without [Joakim] Noah for 30-something games and without Boozer for 20-something," an executive who voted for the Bulls said. "They didn't make any major moves at the deadline, but they put a team together and had confidence in that team."
It'll be announced early May. So far it looks like only 20 out of 30 have voted.