NBA Executives on the Hot Seat
Last week, HOOPSWORLD took a look at NBA executives who should be in the running for Executive of the Year. While there are many other candidates for the award, there are also a good amount of men in suits who may find themselves out of work soon. Some have made decisions that have hurt their current franchise while others may be on the way out as their team begins the process of cleaning house to start over.
Here is a breakdown of a few executives who may be looking for work elsewhere soon:
Rod Higgins – Charlotte Bobcats
It really should not be much of a surprise to find your name on a list of this nature when your team is more than likely going to finish the season with the worst winning percentage in history. The Charlotte Bobcats are the laughingstock of the NBA and without a renewed commitment to turning the franchise around, it is going to be more than difficult to find ways to convince quality free agents to want to play there.
While many believe a good portion of the blame in Charlotte also lies at the feet of Michael Jordan for essentially being an absentee owner who focuses more on his motorcycle team than his basketball team, he can’t fire himself. Someone will take the fall for the amazingly bad year in Charlotte and Higgins is at the top of the list.
Dell Demps – New Orleans Hornets
Demps came into a very difficult situation when he took over in New Orleans with the NBA owning the team and holding the rights to nix any trade, but as the team now goes to new ownership, it would not be a surprise to see Demps heading out. While it is somewhat unfortunate that is the case, especially since he consummated a solid deal for Chris Paul to the Lakers, Demps hasn’t been able to do much other than that.
The Hornets are going to have options over the summer as far as bringing in free agents and in the draft, but will Demps be around to make the calls? Many in New Orleans believe it would be best if someone else were to do so. At this time, the Chris Kaman situation throughout the 2011-12 season is what Demps is known for in New Orleans, which is not a good thing, rather than the Chris Paul trade. After all, his deal was shot down by the league and the eventual trade was one they wanted, rather than Demps. If he has no control to make his deals, he should go somewhere else.
Otis Smith – Orlando Magic
There haven’t been many executives in the spotlight as much as Otis Smith the past year and, as a whole, he has not handled the pressure well. While the team was able to retain team star Dwight Howard at the trade deadline, it wasn’t without trying or without deals on the table. The whole Howard situation put even more of a black mark on Smith’s resume after many fans were calling for his ouster before this season anyway.
Now, as the Orlando Magic are about to head into the postseason without their star player, another early exit is expected from most. More alarming is the Howard/Van Gundy situation and Smith’s handling—or, to be more on-point, non-handling—of the situation. If the team is giving Howard the opportunity to run the show and make all the personnel decisions in Orlando, Van Gundy should have been out the door long ago, rather than dragging the ugly mess on for the remainder of the season.
Ernie Grunfeld – Washington Wizards
When did you hear about the Washington Wizards throughout the 2011-12 NBA season? The only times you did, unless you live in the Washington area, is when something ridiculously embarrassing happened. This was a collection of some talented, yet immature players that made national headlines mostly when they turned the ball over in a most shockingly surprising way or bounced a ball off a teammate’s face.
It’s unfortunate for the team’s star, John Wall, to have to spend some of his early years dealing with a franchise unable to bring him the help required to be competitive in the NBA and Grunfeld holds most of the blame. He is the one who makes the calls and, to be kind, a vast majority of them have been wrong. To this time, outside of Wall’s presence on the team, Grunfeld’s signature move may be acquiring forward Nene from the Denver Nuggets. However, remembering that Nene’s contract was one in which the Nuggets immediately had buyer’s remorse over isn’t something to brag about.
Joe Dumars – Detroit Pistons
After a fine start to his career as an executive, Joe Dumars has tapered off significantly after his initial successes. After all, this will be the person who will always have the black mark on his resume as the one who decided to use a second overall pick on the one and only Darko Milicic, passing up on Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In recent years, Dumars has overpaid for players such as Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, also choosing to overpay almost out of loyalty to the remaining player from his championship team, Tayshaun Prince.
The bright spot in recent seasons for Dumars was the selection of Greg Monroe in the draft, but his decisions to attempt to build a team around the young center have been less than solid. While the franchise may have a loyalty to Dumars that is understandable, the decisions in recent seasons by this executive would make it as understandable should they decide to part ways.
What do you think, NBA fans? What NBA executives around the league would you include as deserving to be on the hot seat?