Summer Dreaming: Executive of Year

David Griffin, with the help of LeBron, had a very eventful summer (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images).

David Griffin, with the help of LeBron, had an eventful summer (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images).

Everybody has their roles. Players play. Coaches coach. But before anybody can get out onto the floor to make shots, grab rebounds and chase down loose balls, somebody has to put the team together and, hopefully, keep things moving forward with a solid, consistent organizational goal.

It’s summertime when the lion’s share of the work is done. However, there was plenty of heaving lift this off-season that has left us with our top five Summer Dreaming picks for NBA Executive of the Year in 2014-15.

Send us your picks.

David Griffin, Cavaliers — Sure, it helps to have the very best player on the planet decide that he’s had enough time by the pool in Coconut Grove and wants to return home. Who’s a better recruiter than LeBron James? Just ask Kevin Love. Or Mike Miller. Or Shawn Marion. But before James made “The Return” official, Miller re-signed point guard Kyrie Irving and made the bold move to hire long-time European coach Dave Blatt as coach. Then Griffin ultimately signed off on sending No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota. If the Cavs are raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy next June, we could look back on this as the most head-turning summer since Bridget Bardot first wore a bikini. Not bad for seven months on the job.

Donnie Nelson, Mavericks — It took three years, but the Mavs finally corrected their biggest front office mistake in bringing back center Tyson Chandler to anchor the middle of the lineup. They simply have not been the same without him since the championship season of 2011. While it would be fair to say Dallas overpaid for free agent small forward Chandler Parsons at $46 million for three years, there’s no question that three more years of Dirk Nowitzki at $8 million per is a bargain and makes the combo a shrewd winner. Nelson gave up Jose Calderon to get Chandler, but veteran Jameer Nelson with enough in his tank is a more than capable replacement. Reserves Shawn Marion and Vince Carter could be missed, but all in all the Mavs have taken a big step forward to get back into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Gar Forman, Bulls — There was definitely time and energy put into the effort to land A-list free agent Carmelo Anthony and it really might have been the best landing spot if Melo’s main interest had been trying to win championships rather than see how high he can stack his salary. In the aftermath, the Bulls hit the jackpot on Plan B by getting Pau Gasol to shed his scapegoat role with the Lakers and move in as a perfect complement to Joakim Noah’s no-holds-barred game on the front line. Forman’s acquisition of Gasol allows the Bulls to keep Taj Gibson in his most effective place coming off the bench and lets rookie Nikola Mirotic to make a slower transition from Europe to the NBA. Rookie Doug McDermott could be just the ticket as the shooter Chicago needs. Oh yes, and Derrick Rose comes back. If LeBron’s homecoming Cavaliers are not representing the East in The Finals next June, it’s probably because the Bulls edged them out.

Rich Cho, Hornets — First, start out by giving Cho delayed credit for bringing the sometimes unappreciated Al Jefferson into Charlotte last season. That move gave first-year coach Steve Clifford a dependable anchor on which to hook his game plan every night and enabled the erstwhile Bobcats to scratch and claw their way to the playoffs. Now with a new/old team name, the Hornets became the surprise landing spot of free agent Lance Stephenson, who’ll give them a slasher, creator, scorer, ball-handler to take some of the pressure off Kemba Walker in the backcourt. Taking P.J. Hairston late in the first round of the draft could pay big dividends as another shooter. Getting free agent Marvin Williams gives them depth at the four behind Cody Zeller and allows No. 9 overall pick Noah Vonleh to recover from surgery and learn slowly. Clifford got well-deserved credit a year in for instilling a sense of purpose and direction on the court. But Cho has given him the tools to compete in East.

Sam Hinkie, 76ers – No, his Sixers are not going to shock the world by making the playoffs or even get a glimpse of them without a pair of binoculars. And no, he’s likely not going to even get a single official vote for this award when his peers cast their ballots next spring. But if they were boldly honest, they’d admit that Hinkie is following perfectly in Year Two the plan that he laid out when he took over the job. He landed Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams with the No. 11 pick in 2013 and now has Nerlens Noel making his NBA debut with a good chance of winning that award back-to-back seasons for the Sixers. Joel Embiid is a No. 1 overall talent that Hinkie got at No. 3 and now will probably sit out the year to mend. Toss in top prospect Dario Saric, who’ll cool his heels for another year in Europe and the Sixers are lined up with a shot at two more first round picks in 2015. Sometimes it’s about the long view.

19 Comments

  1. Thiago S. says:

    Agreed.

  2. Plan Wrap Fan says:

    Lets just ignore the Cavs then. You simply can’t compare that GM to any other off season becaause of LBJ.

    I have to say that it’s hard for me to give the nod to the Bulls off season as well. The most spectacular thing that can happen there is that D Rose is healthy all year long. Any other move they made is good, but not amazing.

    How the heck did the Hornets come up with Lance Stephenson? They showed real signs of improvement last year and their front office has shown a ton of improvement over the past few years. That is how. They are not coming out on top this year but they have seriously improved their standing in the East Coast in the past few years and they are poised to come out as a really solid team this year. Great job.

    Sam Hinkie with the 76ers will either be looked at as a genius or a total looser. They made a great pick last year, and this year their goal is not to get better right now, but to look at the big picture. That can work… and it can totally back fire. It’s not like they have a culture of winning in place right now, so takign the long term view seems like not only a wise choice, but the only realistic choice fot he current roster in place.

    The sad thing for Hinkie is that if this does work out, no one will know for a few more years. So he will get beat up until / if these long term investments pay off.

  3. TTKIN says:

    MCW won ROTY last yr, Noel could do it this yr, and Embiid could do it the year after. That is crazy.

    But hell no does Hinkie deserve this award. If he gets this award, the NBA is admitting that tanking exists, and that they fully support teams that do it.

  4. TTKIN says:

    “But before James made “The Return” official, Miller re-signed point guard Kyrie Irving and…”

    It was Griffin who resigned Kyrie, not Miller…a player who wasn’t on the roster at the time -_-

  5. Harshil says:

    I think Gar Forman is going to win. He made a lot of improvements to the roster like Doug McDermott, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic etc. I strongly believe he should be the one who wins.

  6. frankie says:

    bulls will win. Sorry to let you know Clevland,but its true.

  7. Messed up says:

    If all turns out as he planned, Sam Hinkie could win the “award” in 2018.

  8. JohnN says:

    Trix, you mate, are completely right. Lebron gives the Cavs a fighting chance and that made everybody want to go and join him in Cleveland.

  9. lbj says:

    David Griffin for executive of the year? Thanks to the one true king of basketball, King Lebron and his merry men.

  10. Ali Salem says:

    David Griifin happen to be in Cleveland at the right time
    He ain’t genius and all the credit should go to
    Best player in the world “Lebron James”
    Best GM “Lebron James”
    Lebron should be a commissioner of NBA when he is done playing

  11. harriethehawk says:

    Executive of the Year has to go to Minnesota. They drove a hard bargain, and instead of just “giving up Love now”, they got something great in return. Very smart move!

  12. Trix says:

    I have nothing against David Grifin, he can be a great executive. Cavs won the offseason without a doubt, but was that really because of Griffin. Lebron James fell to him because he was homesick. It wasn’t anything that Griffin did. Lebron happens to be born close to Cleveland. After that Lebron talked to Love and convinced him. All the veterans they signed pretty much threw themselves at cavs to join Lebron. If we are going to reward Cleveland’s great offseason, give the executive of the year award to Lebron

    • jOLAN says:

      I agree completely.

      • Bob Ellison says:

        AGREED-AGREED times 2!!!

        So, Fran, how about a new list — G.M.s who basically accomplished nothing, zip, nada! Oh, yeah, they’re out there, sweating, worrying, like the Wizard of Oz, scared someone soon-sooner-soonest — might raise the curtain, swing the ax, WHAM!!!

      • Chicago King says:

        Bron Bron didn’t return to Cleveland because he was homesick he knew Miami was done and the Cavaliers getting the those 2 first round picks and cavs having young bucks to the team he knew they have potential to go to the finals soon. Especially the Cavs getting all that $ from the bandwagoners they can do pretty much anything.

      • Alfa says:

        You are right. LeBron is the guy to honor.

    • lakers1fan says:

      WORD!!!