The NBA hierarchy has undergone a shakeup this season, but it’s tough to identify a front-runner for the Executive of the Year award. There’s still about a month to go before the end of the regular season, and the extra time might make the choice somewhat easier, but the outcome seems destined to be too close to call until the winner is revealed. Here’s a look at five strong candidates, in alphabetical order:
- Danny Ferry, Hawks: Ferry would probably be the clear-cut favorite if not for his racially charged remarks about Luol Deng that prompted him to take an indefinite leave of absence in September, one from which he’s yet to return. The roster that Ferry constructed is running away with the Eastern Conference, though much of the credit for that belongs to coach Mike Budenholzer, who’s running the front office in Ferry’s absence. Ferry nonetheless built the Hawks in the mold of the Spurs, where he’d previously served as an executive, and perhaps no one outside of San Antonio has had as much success with the formula as this Atlanta team has. It’s happened on the cheap, too, as the Hawks are below the salary cap.
- Gar Forman, Bulls: Forman shares front office responsibilities with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson, but Forman seems to handle most of the day-to-day duties. Chicago’s title hopes still largely live and die with the health of Derrick Rose, but the Bulls are less dependent on their point guard than in years past after amnestying Carlos Boozer, a move that cleared the way for Pau Gasol‘s three-year, $22.346MM deal, one that looks like a bargain. Forman and company also brought over Nikola Mirotic, who’s fit right into the team’s rotation, and watched as Jimmy Butler, the last pick of the first round in the 2011 draft, has outplayed many former first overall picks this year.
- David Griffin, Cavs: The widespread perception is that LeBron James is the one who really pulls the strings in Cleveland, but they don’t hand out the Executive of the Year award to players. Even if LeBron was the catalyst for or at least had input on the team’s moves since he rejoined this past July, Griffin deserves credit for acquiring just about every target the team has sought this season. The Cavs wanted Kevin Love, and they got him. They wanted Timofey Mozgov, and they got him, too. The same is true of Kendrick Perkins. They sought an upgrade on the wing, and they traded for both Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith. The only major miss was on Ray Allen, but he’s not playing for anyone else.
- Bob Myers, Warriors: Golden State’s front office takes a collaborative approach, and the roster is largely intact from last season. Still, the Warriors have earned praise for their decision not to give up Thompson for Love and to give Thompson an extension that secured him for four more years. The hiring of new coach Steve Kerr has also paid dividends. One of the first moves the Warriors made after promoting Myers to GM was to draft Draymond Green 35th overall in 2012, and he’s proven a steal both for his draft position and his minimum salary.
- Neil Olshey, Trail Blazers: Portland was coming off a 28-38 season when Olshey arrived from the Clippers, and the first major move on Olshey’s Blazers resume was perhaps his most impressive, drafting Damian Lillard. The GM has gradually built around Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, turning the team into a winning outfit that convinced Aldridge to stay after it seemed he was on his way out two years ago. Olshey didn’t make many earth-shattering moves this year, but he should receive consideration based on the sum of his achievements in Portland.
Let us know who you think should win the Executive of the Year award, and feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comments.