Longest-Tenured NBA GMs/Presidents

As is the case in the NBA’s head coaching ranks, a handful of long-tenured heads of basketball operations have been replaced in 2022, a result of some offseason front office shakeups.

Oddly, since we put together last offseason’s list of the league’s longest-tenured heads of basketball operations, all of the major front office changes have occurred in the Northwest Division. Thunder GM Sam Presti is the only lead basketball executive who retained decision-making autonomy in the Northwest, while the other four teams – in Portland, Denver, Minnesota, and Utah – all made changes.

Among those changes were Neil Olshey being let go by the Trail Blazers after nearly a decade at the helm and Tim Connelly departing the Nuggets (for the Wolves) after a nine-year stint with the team. Olshey and Connelly had been the NBA’s fifth- and seventh-longest tenured heads of basketball operations, respectively.

Although only one person holds a team’s head coaching job, that same team might 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.

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:

  1. Gregg Popovich, Spurs (president): May 31, 1994
    • Brian Wright holds the general manager title, but Popovich ultimately has final say.
  2. Pat Riley, Heat (president): September 2, 1995
  3. Sam Presti, Thunder (GM/executive VP): June 7, 2007
  4. Bob Myers, Warriors (GM/president): April 24, 2012
  5. Masai Ujiri, Raptors (president): May 31, 2013
  6. Sean Marks, Nets (GM): February 18, 2016
  7. Kevin Pritchard, Pacers (president): May 1, 2017
  8. Jeff Weltman, Magic (president): May 22, 2017
  9. Travis Schlenk, Hawks (president): May 25, 2017
  10. Jon Horst, Bucks (GM): June 16, 2017
  11. Koby Altman, Cavaliers (GM): June 19, 2017
  12. Lawrence Frank, Clippers (president): August 4, 2017
  13. Mitch Kupchak, Hornets (GM/president): April 8, 2018
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Zach Kleiman, Grizzlies (executive VP): April 11, 2019
  18. David Griffin, Pelicans (executive VP): April 17, 2019
  19. Leon Rose, Knicks (president): March 2, 2020
  20. Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls (executive VP): April 13, 2020
  21. Troy Weaver, Pistons (GM): June 18, 2020
  22. Monte McNair, Kings (GM): September 17, 2020
  23. Rafael Stone, Rockets (GM): October 15, 2020
  24. Daryl Morey, Sixers (president): November 2, 2020
  25. Brad Stevens, Celtics (president): June 2, 2021
  26. Nico Harrison, Mavericks (GM/president): June 28, 2021
    • Owner Mark Cuban is also heavily involved in basketball decisions and ultimately has final say.
  27. Joe Cronin, Trail Blazers (GM): December 3, 2021
    • Cronin assumed the job on an interim basis on December 3, 2021. He was named the permanent GM on May 10, 2022.
  28. Danny Ainge, Jazz (CEO/alternate governor): December 15, 2021
  29. Tim Connelly, Timberwolves (president): May 23, 2022
  30. Calvin Booth, Nuggets (GM): May 23, 2022

Information from Basketball-Reference was used in the creation of this post.

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