rockymac52 wrote:The way I see it, once we fire Ernie (whether mid-season, after this year, or God forbid, in a future year), we have 4 main options:
1. Promote from within the organization
2. Hire another team's current GM
3. Hire a former GM
4. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team
Quoting myself here, but I wanted to give my input on which of these options I prefer, at least at the moment.
Option 1: Promote from within the organization
If you couldn't tell by my last post, I'm not a fan of this operation. Again, I have nothing against Tommy Sheppard or any of the other current Wizards front office executives. For all I know we have a future stud GM already on our team in-the-waiting. But just for the sake of the fan-base, I don't think this is a good option. If we're going to fire Ernie, then we need to do this thing the right way, and that's going to require a fresh start, from top to bottom. I'd honestly lose any hope I had in this franchise if we ended up promoting from within. The fan and optimist in me would inevitably eventually buy into the new GM, and I'd still support the team, but man oh man, when the news breaks that we hired from within I'm going to be SMH for a good hour, at the very least. It would be the ultimate let-down. Please, just let the fans at least be excited when the new GM is announced. It's a good thing for the organization. We need it.
Option 2: Hire another team's current GM
This one's kinda hard to analyze. Obviously there are other GMs currently in this league that I would love to see running our team. But it's hard to predict who's even potentially available. I'm going to operate from the mindset that we won't be able to lure another team's current GM away from them, unless he's one who hasn't had much success, in which case, I almost definitely don't want him here. Would I like to see RC Buford leave San Antonio and become the Wizards GM in the near future? Yes. Obviously yes. But I'm not going to get my hopes up of anything like that happening, and frankly it's not worth our time even considering it, at least until a specific name is mentioned publicly as a possibility. I don't see this option happening when it's all said and done, and for the most part, I don't want it to happen (unless one of the more highly-regarded GMs shocks the world and chooses to leave their current job to come to DC).
Option 3: Hire a former GM
The thing about former GMs is that they were either fired, not re-signed, or they stepped down. If they were fired, it was almost definitely because they weren't doing a good job. There are surely some exceptions and extenuating circumstances, but for the most part, this is not a good sign. If they were not re-signed, well, let's be real, they were essentially fired. Same story. If they stepped down, it all depends on the circumstances. Are they getting up there in age and it was basically a retirement? If that's the case, I'll pass, even if they're a legendary GM, because they clearly aren't in it for the long-haul, and we need someone who is. If they stepped down because of some scandal (don't know if this has ever happened, just throwing it out there as a possible reason a GM might step down), that's almost definitely a bad sign. But maybe they stepped down because of personal reasons, or they wanted to spend more time with their family, or they didn't get along with the owner for one reason or another. There's plenty of quality reasons someone might have stepped down. So if there's a good reason, then I'm all ears to the possibility. However, as a large generalization, I don't think I want hire a former GM.
If they were a bad GM before, then I don't want them. I want to hire someone who could potentially be a great GM. A guy who already had his shot, and failed, isn't likely to be great, in my opinion. A guy who already has his shot, and was decent, but not good enough to keep his job? I'll pass. That's what I'm afraid of though. It reminds me of Ernie Grunfeld. It reminds me of how he hadn't really had much success in the past when we hired him. It reminds me of the 10 years without much success that he's put us through here. He hasn't been awful, by any means. But he hasn't been GOOD. And being good is what it's all about. I'm very concerned that we'll take a guy similar to Grunfeld in this sense, who has experience being a GM, and was decent at his job, but just not great. These types of guys know what they're talking about, and are able to tell owners what went wrong last time and how they'll theoretically fix it. It's a compelling argument. One that might sound very appealing to an owner. I just hope Ted doesn't get fooled by somebody like this.
One guy who comes to mind is Jeff Bower. Bower used to be the GM of the Hornets. He made some good moves while he was there (traded Baron Davis to the Warriors, then drafted Chris Paul - this move alone is better than anything Ernie has done for us in 10 years, sadly). But he made plenty of bad ones too. Hence, why he was fired. When I was looking up all of the candidates for recent GM openings earlier tonight, I think his name was mentioned most frequently. Now, it's a good sign that several different teams were interested in Bower recently. However, it's also a bad sign that none of them ended up hiring him. To me, that means he's a decent candidate. He knows what he's talking about because he's had plenty of experience, and he's a decent amount of success. But it sounds like he's not great. I want a great GM, not a decent GM. Maybe there's more to Bower than meets the eye here, and I'm open to the possibility if we really believe he's the best man for the job, but color me skeptical.
So as a whole, I'm not very keen on option 3. I like it better than options 1 and 2 (assuming we can't get an established good GM from another team), but I'm not thrilled with it. Sadly, from what we've seen from the Wizards organization in the past, I can't help but feel like this is the option that we'll end up going with.
Option 4: Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team
I like this option. However, the caveat is that I can't speak to any individual candidates who fall into this section, and it's far from a sure-thing. I like the IDEA of this option. I'd like to imagine that there's several amazing future GMs that are currently in smaller roles with other teams. There most likely are. The tough part is finding them, and then convincing them to come to DC. If we can manage to identify these guys, and we like what we hear from them, and they're ready to take over in DC, then great. Sign me up. But like I said, this option is far from a sure-thing. And even if it sounds good on paper, we likely won't know if it's a good hire for quite some time. I'm okay with patiently waiting to evaluate that, but I'm just saying, we won't know for sure for a while.
However, I can't help but think about two similar situations that make me hesitant to fully buy into this option. First, you know how many NBA fans (and GMs too, sadly) would prefer to sign/draft a player whose current skill/talent is unknown or unimpressive, but is widely-thought of as having a ton of "potential", instead of a player who we already know is decent, but not great, just because the prior player has this "potential"? I think most of us can agree that more often than not, teams are ultimately better off with the guy who's decent, but not getting any better, than the unknown quantity with freakish athleticism and endless "potential". Sure, there are exceptions, but I feel like most of the time these projects or "raw" players don't actually end up being even halfway decent. Now, when it comes to a GM, I've already made it clear that I want someone who's going to be great, not just someone who's average. So maybe this example doesn't really fit in this situation. Ernie is, for the most part, average. Would we be better off with an unknown quantity (another team's assistant GM)? That guy is a mystery. He could turn out to be awful. He could be way worse than Ernie ever was. He could run this team even further into the ground. But, he could also be the best GM in the entire league. Since he hasn't had a shot at running a team yet in the past, we just don't know. So there's hope that he could be great. So what do we do?
My second example that this all reminded me of is a little different. If you couldn't tell by my posts in the past or my avatar, I'm a Mizzou fan. About a year and a half ago, our basketball coach, Mike Anderson, abruptly left our program to go coach at Arkansas. There's a lot more to the story, but for our purposes here, that's all that matters. He left, and we were all of a sudden in need of a new coach. We reached out to a few bigger names, and we ended up with our sights set on Matt Painter, Purdue's coach. There were reports he was on the verge of coming to Mizzou, but then he backed out last minute. The search was becoming a mess. It was almost embarrassing. Then, out of nowhere, it was announced that we hired Frank Haith. Haith was the Miami coach at the time, and had been for the last 6 years or so. He wasn't even on our radar, so it was a total shock. Haith hadn't had any success at Miami. I think he made the NCAA Tournament once in his tenure there, and they definitely didn't make a deep run or anything. Miami, as I'm sure know, is pretty much the worst team in the ACC, year in and year out. Almost all of our fans were not only confused about the hire, but downright upset. I'll admit, I was surprised at first as well, and wasn't thrilled by any means. But the optimist and supporter in me looked at it on the bright side, and after a few days I was on board with the hire.
Shortly thereafter, I got into a long debate with a buddy of mine about the hire. I made excuses about Haith's past performance at Miami, citing the school's huge lack of a commitment and support given to the basketball program (this was/is very true). I argued that Haith would be a talented recruiter, and that our team, which was left with 0 recruits (thanks a lot, Anderson), filled with a short roster of only 8 guys, 6 of which were seniors, would be good enough to compete in the meantime. What's more interesting, though, is what my friend was arguing. After I told him that I understood he didn't like Haith, and asked him who he would have preferred we sign instead, of coaches who we actually realistically could have signed, his response was that he would have preferred we sign a young, unproven coach from a mid-major conference, most likely the Missouri Valley Conference, simply because they were young and at least had the "potential" to be a great coach. This came right after Brad Stevens led Butler to the finals 2 years in a row, so undoubtedly that had some influence on his point of view. Anyways, I told him that I understood the sentiment, and that I knew it was fairly common for a young coach to lead his mid-major team to the NCAA Tournament, and then if he upset one or two teams, or put up a good showing, he'd be next in line to get an open major conference job. It happens year after year. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Anyways, he wanted to take a shot on one of these guys, simply because they were young and MIGHT be good. I was baffled at how stupid and irrational that was. He insisted Haith was terrible and that Mizzou would win 16 games and miss the tournament at best the next season. Well, we won 30 games, won the Big 12 Tournament, and got a #2 seed in the tournament. (Let's not talk about what happened next
Now, my point here (and I realize I got really off topic) is not that I'm smart for being right in this one instance about Haith. My point is that the younger, unknown quantity, is not necessarily better just because they COULD be good. To be fair, who knows how good Mizzou would have been if we did what he wanted and hired some young MVC coach - maybe we would have gone undefeated? Anyways, I just think it's something we should keep in mind when considering hiring another team's younger Assistant GM. He might be great, but he might be terrible. Just because he hasn't been a GM before doesn't mean he's likely to be good once we give him a shot.
But again, overall, this is probably my favorite option. Unfortunately it's also the one option where I REALLY can't say who the right man for the job is, because we haven't seen them in action yet. Maybe the team he's been on recently has made some great moves, and he supposedly had a big hand in some of them, but who really knows how involved he was? I have seen at least 10 front office executives been given credit for drafting the likes of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, and the like. I can believe that many people were involved in the decision and provided some very helpful input, but let's not get too excited just because we hear that one guy was important in drafting that guy. We just don't know how it actually went down.
In summary, here's my order of preference, generally speaking:
1. Hire an up-and-coming front office executive from another team
2. Hire a former GM
3. Hire another team's current GM
4. Promote from within the organization