As is the case in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, a number of long-tenured heads of basketball operations have been replaced over the course of 2020, a result of some offseason front office shakeups.
Since we put together last summer’s list of the league’s longest-tenured heads of basketball operations, the Bulls (John Paxson/Gar Forman) and Rockets (Daryl Morey) are among the six teams that have made major changes, installing a new decision-maker atop their respective basketball operations departments for the first time in well over a decade. As such, it’s time to update our list.
While only one person holds a team’s head coaching job, that same team could carry a variety of front office executives with titles like general manager, president of basketball operations, or executive VP of basketball operations. In some cases, it’s not always which clear which executive should be considered the club’s head of basketball operations, or which one has the ultimate final say on roster decisions. That distinction becomes even more nebulous when taking into account team ownership.
For our list of the longest-tenured GMs/presidents in the NBA, we’ve done our best to identify the top exec in each front office, but if a situation isn’t entirely clear-cut, we’ve made a note below.
Without further ado, here’s the list of the NBA’s longest-tenured heads of basketball operations, along with their respective titles and the dates they were hired or promoted:
- Gregg Popovich, Spurs (president): May 31, 1994
- Brian Wright holds the general manager title, but Popovich ultimately has final say.
- Pat Riley, Heat (president): September 2, 1995
- Danny Ainge, Celtics (president): May 9, 2003
- Donn Nelson, Mavericks (GM/president): March 19, 2005
- Owner Mark Cuban is also heavily involved in basketball decisions and ultimately has final say.
- Sam Presti, Thunder (GM/executive VP): June 7, 2007
- Bob Myers, Warriors (GM/president): April 24, 2012
- Neil Olshey, Trail Blazers (president): June 4, 2012
- Dennis Lindsey, Jazz (executive VP): August 7, 2012
- Masai Ujiri, Raptors (president): May 31, 2013
- Tim Connelly, Nuggets (president): June 17, 2013
- Sean Marks, Nets (GM): February 18, 2016
- Kevin Pritchard, Pacers (president): May 1, 2017
- Jeff Weltman, Magic (president): May 22, 2017
- Travis Schlenk, Hawks (president): May 25, 2017
- Jon Horst, Bucks (GM): June 16, 2017
- Koby Altman, Cavaliers (GM): June 19, 2017
- Lawrence Frank, Clippers (president): August 4, 2017
- Mitch Kupchak, Hornets (GM/president): April 8, 2018
- Tommy Sheppard, Wizards (GM): April 2, 2019
- Sheppard assumed the job on an interim basis on April 2, 2019. He was named the permanent GM on July 22, 2019.
- Rob Pelinka, Lakers (GM/VP): April 9, 2019
- Pelinka has been the Lakers’ GM since February 2017, but was below Magic Johnson in the front office hierarchy until Johnson resigned on April 9, 2019.
- James Jones, Suns (GM): April 11, 2019
- Jones began serving as the Suns’ co-interim GM alongside Trevor Bukstein in October 2018, but was named the lone, permanent head of basketball operations on April 11, 2019.
- Zach Kleiman, Grizzlies (executive VP): April 11, 2019
- David Griffin, Pelicans (executive VP): April 17, 2019
- Gersson Rosas, Timberwolves (president): May 3, 2019
- Leon Rose, Knicks (president): March 2, 2020
- Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls (executive VP): April 13, 2020
- Troy Weaver, Pistons (GM): June 18, 2020
- Monte McNair, Kings (GM): September 17, 2020
- Rafael Stone, Rockets (GM): October 15, 2020
- Daryl Morey, Sixers (president): November 2, 2020
Information from Basketball-Reference was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.