Bucher On Nets, Pacers, Stephenson, Jordan, Collins

In his first column for Bleacher Report, Ric Bucher writes that GMs from across the league are reporting that their owners have skyhigh/unrealistic expectations for the upcoming season.  Bucher spoke to several execs and asked them about their chief concern for 2013/14 and Nets GM Billy King was the only one whose biggest concern centered on basketball.  The expectation level of owners and front office turnover has changed the mindset of many execs who were once seeking the formula for success but are now zeroed in on survival.  More from Bucher’s column..

  • The Pacers are a young squad with a payroll ($71.431MM) on the cusp of the luxury-tax threshold, but one opposing GM said that, for financial reasons, they will have a hard time ever fielding a team deeper in talent than this one.  Danny Granger’s $14MM contract comes off the books next season, but that savings is wiped out by Paul George’s extension kicking in.  The bottom line is that locking up free-agent-to-be Lance Stephenson will require stripping the roster of its current depth.  “One thing I can tell you,” the exec said. “Indy is not paying the luxury tax.
  • Some are skeptical of Clippers coach Doc Rivers‘ praise for center DeAndre Jordan and his effort, but Bucher hears that it’s legit.  “He’s more engaged than ever before,” a scout said of Jordan, who clashed with previous coach Vinny Del Negro. “He’s constantly talking on defense, and that’s new.”  Of course, Rivers will have quite a bit of say in personnel in L.A.
  • Several GMs say they have an aversion to free agent center Jason Collins – not because of his sexual orientation, but over the relentless media attention it will generate.  “If it were just an initial blast and you knew it would settle down after that, it would be one thing,” said one executive. “But you know this is something that he and his teammates are going to be asked about everywhere they go, all season long, and all it takes is one guy to say something a little off and it could really blow up. He’s still good enough to play in the league, but when you throw in the ongoing media frenzy, most teams are going to decide it’s just not worth it.”  The Nets and Pistons were reportedly among the clubs with some level of interest in the free agent big man.
  • One GM who was polled said the shift from commissioner David Stern to Adam Silver is his biggest worry.  “I don’t know how much he thinks about the integrity of the game,” the GM said. “He’s more about selling widgets.
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