Posted by Royce Young
Being in charge of a roster in any sport isn't as easy as us fans like to think it is. We have the ever-helpful tool of hindsight and we definitely use it every available opportunity.
And while GMs are often given time to develop their roster "vision" and plan, that doesn't mean they get forever, especially if the team stinks. Even if the plan is perfect, if the on-field or on-court results don't yield positivity, the chances of receiving a letter with the black spot on it increase exponentially. Ken Berger illustrates the ripple effect of firing a GM quite well in reference to the most recent dismissal, the Hornets' Jeff Bower.
So with four NBA general managers already being relieved of their duty this offseason, the obvious question is, who could be next? Who's on the hot seat and just how warm is it? Let's look at five captains that currently have warm backsides.
David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves
For whatever reason, I just feel like Kahn has some sort of trick up his sleeve. Surely these moves aren't really this nonsensical. Surely he has some sort of coherent plan, some kind of method to this madness. However, nothing indicates such a thing thus far.
With Tuesday's trade of former franchise man Al Jefferson to Utah for some draft picks and the rumored signing of a fourth point guard, Kahn's current reputation is nothing more than poster boy for clueless general managers. When writers are wondering if an avocado might make a better GM than you , that could be a warning that your seat is about to light on fire.
Donnie Walsh, New York Knicks
The pressure in New York is always higher. And plus when you campaign for a job behind the promise of luring LeBron James and then don't come through on that, things can tend to get a little dicey. But Walsh appears to have a quality plan. He's secured some cap space that will come in handy over the next few seasons when players like Carmelo Anthony become available.
However with the large signing of Amare Stoudemire and the overall deconstruction of the roster in order to build a winner through big signings, if Mike D'Antoni and crew don't deliver, Walsh may be putting his resume on CareerBuilder or actual might be retiring.
Joe Dumars, Detroit Pistons
Dumars was once considered one of the best and brighest in the GMs in the game. And then Allen Iverson happened. A trade that sent fan favorite and champion Chauncey Billups to Denver for a washing-but-not-quite-washed-up AI is what sent Dumars' into a tailspin. It was a bold move which I can definitely respect in a league where bold moves often don't happen, but simply put, it crashed and burned. Dumars then gave Richard Hamilton a curiously large extension, inked Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva for too much money and hired and fired a coach within a calendar year.
This year is big for Dumars. The Pistons landed a potentially excellent big man in Greg Monroe in the draft, plus have some promising young players like Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey. But Detroit isn't the type of town that handles being in the lottery multiple years very well. Sure Dumars brought home the big trophy in 2004, but in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, Dumars' teams haven't done a lot lately.
Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards
Yep, Grunfeld was gifted John Wall. And yep, Wall could potentially save a lot of people's jobs because he's really, really good. But the thing is, when you land a talent of Wall's caliber, the pressure immediately shifts to the GM. He's got to supply his new, shiny toy complementing pieces to make sure he succeeds. And so far, the jury's out as to if Grunfeld is doing that.
He's obviously trying to move Gilbert Arenas and his albatross of a contract to better make room for Wall. He brought in Kirk Hinrich who could be an excellent player next to Wall. He also grabbed Yi Jianlian from New Jersey. But the team doesn't figure to be a whole lot better this upcoming season and with some expectation in Wall, if he doesn't develop, it could the end for Grunfeld.
Ed Stefanski, Philadelphia 76ers
Why Stefanski? Elton Brand. Elton Brand says it all. When you ink a player to a huge deal and then one year later are publically shopping that player to unload what everyone agrees is a "bad contract" that means you probably screwed the pooch. And when that contract will likely haunt the franchise for multiple years, then you really know it was bad. And of course the hiring of Eddie Jordan only to fire him months later definitely doesn't look great. Strike one and two.
The 76ers haven't been a truly relevant contender since 2003. And it's not like the 76ers don't have talent. There's just no cohesion to the roster in general. Andre Iguodala is a quality player, but he's clearly not a leading man. You can't fault Stefanski for trying though. He drastically overpaid for Brand, but that's because he thought he was a piece away. Though there's certainly honor in that, that stuff doesn't matter to a frustrated fanbase. Landing the second overall pick and Evan Turner could be huge for Stefanski but if Turner and the team comes along slowly, that could be strike three.