Summer Dreaming: Executive Of The Year

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HANG TIME, Texas – Never mind that the weather map says it’ s hurricane season. This is the time of year when there are nothing but blue skies over every NBA franchise from Miami to Portland to Los Angeles to Toronto.

Draft picks have been chosen and brought into camp. Free agents have been signed and trotted out for the TV cameras. Trades have been made to fill holes in the lineups. It’s a time for championship planning among the elite class and fantasizing about moving up by the wannabes.

But the truth is that, despite so much spin doctoring that comes out of all the front offices, there are a handful of team presidents and general managers that made the most of the offseason. That’s why we don’t have to wait till next April — or even the season openers — to know who’ll be taking bows for their work. They’re our summer dreaming picks for Executive of the Year:

Daryl Morey, Rockets – Unless Dwight Howard wakes up one morning and declares it was all a mistake — that he really loved having Kobe Bryant as a playmate, that he thoroughly enjoyed Mike D’Antoni’s offense and that he never, ever meant to leave those clever recruiting banners in L.A. — this is as sure a thing as Usain Bolt outrunning a lead-boot-wearing Charles Barkley. If Howard stays healthy, he and fellow All-Star James Harden will team up to make the Rockets instant challengers for one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference and could even be a dark horse contender to advance all the way to The Finals. But before they even chalk up one “W” in the standings, Morey has put a headlock on the award simply by making the Rockets franchise relevant again for the first time in years. After drifting on a sea of anonymity and mediocrity since the star-crossed Tracy McGrady-Yao Ming pairing came undone, the Rockets are back in the spotlight. A year ago, they were on national TV once. Now they have 10 appearances on ESPN, nine on TNT, one on ABC and even made it into the Christmas lineup with a date at San Antonio.

Billy King, Nets – It’s like walking into a casino with a sack full of money, walking straight to the roulette table and plopping it all down on red. Or black. Either way, it’s a 50-50 gamble and you live with the results. King certainly has the cushion and the endorsement of Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokorhov and the understanding that paying the luxury tax bill of nearly $100 million is no problem. Still, it takes considerable nerve for King to bet it all on the hope that a 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 35-year-old Paul Pierce, 35-year-old Jason Terry and a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd can take down the two-time defending champs from Miami along with the rest of what has become a strengthened Eastern Conference lineup. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were enough to make Brooklyn a postseason sports destination for the first time since the Dodgers left town, but now it’s the old Celtics who’ll be expected to show them how to win a series or more. To get Andrei Kirilenko to walk away from a guaranteed $10 million to sign a cut-rate deal was probably the second-best move of the entire NBA offseason, trailing only Dwight Howard’s move to Houston. Kirilenko adds a tough defender and a slashing finisher to a lineup that hopes to have Brook Lopez improving on his first ever All-Star season. If he’s accomplished one big thing already, King has jumped the Nets over the Knicks as the headlining team in New York, which is signficant.

Chris Grant, Cavaliers – Things have changed considerably since that first summer on the job as GM when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the temptation might have been to turn out the lights and simply declare the NBA party in Cleveland over. Grant has steadily reassembled the franchise one piece at time to a point where people are whispering that it’s not out of the question to think James could return next summer when he becomes a free agent. Before that, the Cavs figure to have a resurgent seasons between their splendid young point guard Kyrie Irving and all the other pieces that Grant has put around him. Anthony Bennett may have been a bit of a surprise on draft night, but should fill a need on the front line and free agent signee Jarrett Jack will be both a firecracker lift off the bench. Of course, the big bonanza would be if free agent Andrew Bynum can overcome the knee injuries that left him notable only for sitting on bench modeling outrageous hairstyles last season in Philly. A return to the form that once made him an All-Star with the Lakers makes Grant a genius and, even if Bynum falls short, the Cavs have not made a long crippling financial commitment to the gamble. And don’t forget to give Grant credit for not listening to the suggestions that he should have traded Anderson Varejao. The Cavs will likely make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference and, depending on how bright the future looks next spring, could turn the head of a familiar figure to come home.

Joe Dumars, Pistons – Let’s face it. The Hall of Fame guard-turned-GM has taken his fair share of abuse through recent seasons for allowing the once-proud franchise to drift way out of the playoff picture and even have trouble drawing crowds to The Palace. Was it a curse for making Darko Mlicic the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft, ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Then there was that disastrous free agent splurge on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva in 2009. But lately Dumars has been making a comeback, drafting a pair of big men in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond who have the potential to anchor the Pistons front line for years to come. He made his biggest play in signing free agent Josh Smith, hoping that the stat-line filler can step into the role of No. 1 option and even team leader. Then Dumars traded for Brandon Jennings with hope that he can be both reined in and unleashed and brought home former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to show him how. Mo Cheeks gets his third shot as a head coach and it’s all a mix that could put the Pistons back in the playoffs.

Dell Demps, Pelicans – The easier path for Demps would have been to keep Nerlens Noel when the big man fell into his lap at the No. 6 pick and keep on selling a theme of acquiring young assets and building for the future. But with a new team name, new franchise colors and a new owner (Tom Benson) writing the checks, it was a time for a new and bolder direction. The young and oh-so-slender Noel was deemed too much duplication on the front line with 2012 No. 1 pick Anthony Davis and was trade to Philly for 23-year-old guard Jrue Holiday, who puts the only All-Star credentials in the New Orleans lineup. Demps then kept dealing to bring more firepower into the lineup with former rookie of the year Tyreke Evans. Of course, that immediately brought talk of a crowded backcourt with Eric Gordon still on hand, but Demps and coach Monty Williams are betting that a three-man rotation cannot only thrive, but put some punch into what was a thoroughly mediocre offense last season. Assuming Davis takes another big step forward in his second season, the Pelicans could contend for one of the final playoff spots in the West.

PREVIOUSLY: Comeback player | MVP | Coach of the Year | Sixth Man of the Year | Defensive Player of Year | Most Improved Player | Rookie Of Year

16 Comments

  1. mark says:

    Its hard to make a goid argument fot any of these gm.s because they are all doing something different the cavs are rebounding from still from the loss of james and chose to keep salary low and draft player and play a wait and see type of rebuild by watching tgere players in camp practices and during the season because the jury is still out on the young cavs we see young teams all the time get older and still be a so so team then draft agian and get young agian I.e 76er.s BK and houston when a completely different direction when it came to build a team back up from ground zero BK trades fot d.will to utah resigns him signs iso joe free agency trades for paul and Garnett and terry so they did it much differently they went through draft pick after draft pick with nothing to really show except for a very good young center who will be a beast for years to come besides that they built this team with a win now mentality houston kinda did they same in trading for harden (dumb thunder anyways) they kinda of found help by way of the draft but the big fish came out of free agency d. Howard and the other center on the squad asik and lin so they went there own way about getting the rockets back to being relevant now for the pelicans intentionally trading c.p.3 knowing he will leave the team because they could not give him a team that could get be in the top half of the playoff bracket every year so they trade him and get as much as possible for him and build by way of draft trading for young star pg holiday and signing former r.o.y evans I belive.they did a better job then anyone by finding other teams to trade with being smart and knowing that they are rebuilding and trying to stay young not add 30.something vets who are in twilight of there career and not overpaying for players who don’t fit there team I believe in the long run the pelicans will be a very good smart team not today not tommorow but in the future the cavs will fallow suit but I belive the l pelicans made the moves that where best for the future getting young talent with more then potential and not banking on unproven talent

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  3. xyzd says:

    actually mad at this demps guy – since what could have benn block party at NO kind of seemed intruiging the handful of minutes it actually seemed to be reality

  4. shaba says:

    Mavericks execs should also be in consideration, they made some pretty solid off-season moves for their team, but once again everything will depend on the season

  5. J says:

    i didn’t read this summer dreaming but i loved the rest

  6. Kamote says:

    How about LAC for getting a great coach??? And with that they locked CP3. Though it still pains me that they’ve lost Bledsoe in the process, but this franchise has gone from just a winning team to a serious championship contender.

  7. pathostikss says:

    i think they all done a “ok”job this year, nothing special, one or 2 nice shots.

  8. DChoi003 says:

    bob myers not on this list is a travesty. just getting rid of two horrid contracts in biedrins and jefferson is enough. to flip that for iguodala, then sign speights, o’neal, douglas and get a first round draft pick without one? this after signing a curry extension last year, picking barnes at 7 and actually being a player in the dwight howard sweepstakes? cannot see why myers is overlooked.

  9. Kimmy says:

    This si a tough one. I think it’s a toss up between the Nets and the Rockets execs. Cleveland has a long way to go, even if all players stay healthy. Houston and Nets are already a sure thing for the playoffs. So the decisions made by the powers that be here have potentially placed these teams in “finals” category. The question is: how high can they each go??? We shall see. I somehow feel that the Rockets are not going to let us down. Leaning towards the. YOUTH WINS!!!!

    • I would contend that the Warriors getting Andre Iguodala for three very expendable players was a better move than the Nets snagging Kirilenko for next to nothing. That move, along with the signings of serviceable reserves such as Jermaine O’Neal, Mareese Speights, and Toney Douglas should put Bob Meyers in firm consideration for a spot in the top 5, and maybe 2nd behind Morey.

  10. 007 says:

    Honestly the Cavs GM should be removed from consideration. All he did was lose a FA and was awarded years of lottery picks to compensate for his exit.

    Ohhhh so smart.

    Doc Rivers will be the first coach to win Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year in the same season. I do not know if he wil be the first but it sounds like it has not been done before.

  11. Jon says:

    How about Dennis Lindsey for the Jazz? He didn’t overpay to have some veterans stay, acquired some draft picks via trades, and wheeled and dealed to get some decent draft picks?