FanHouse's 2010 NBA General Manager Swagger Index
30. Larry Riley/Don Nelson, Warriors. A self-loathing organization that hates itself too much to even blow up its own house.
29. Mike Dunleavy, Clippers. No, no, and no. A GM is supposed to be forced to coach to prove his personnel choices were sound. Being a crappy coach hired to replace a GM says more "see how hard it is to make these choices." He's being taught a lesson by the ghost of Elgin Baylor, because it amuses Donald Sterling, and as with all things Clippers these days, the result will be a lawsuit and a torn patella.
28. Gar Forman/John Paxson, Bulls. We would say, "ice-bound cavemen could do more" but we're not fully convinced Forman and Paxson aren't ice-bound cavemen. Of course, when you look at it, the Bulls dumped Andres Nocioni for nothing over the course of two deadlines. But they also dumped Tyrus Thomas for nothing, when he cost LaMarcus Aldridge. If it weren't for the lack of respect this front office has, everyone would fear the Bulls as much as the Knicks and Nets this summer.
27. Joe Dumars, Pistons. Falls here not based on performance, though he's suffering as of late, but because if he had any swagger left, he'd call a press conference to remind the world that he built a team that won a title. What has anyone else on this list done lately? Dumars will be here once half these current GMs have retired to Wisconsin to chase each other around in gladiator costumes.
26. Larry Bird, Pacers. Get in the ring.
25. Steve Kerr, Suns. The ultimate wishy-washy S.O.B. No love for Amar'e Stoudemire, no willingness to dump him and move on, no clear plan for the future other than not falling down a hole like he did with Shaq. Twenty bucks says he retires when Nash leaves town for good.
24. Rod Thorn, Nets. When you draw 100 percent of your swagger from a borough you won't play in for two years, a Russian owner you might get fired by, and a commissioner with far more important things to worry about, your Effective Swag Quotient (ESQ) will be low.
23. Ed Stefanski, Sixers. Standing pat at the deadline says "I am strong, I am a rock. No matter what you say, or how many directions this roster is headed in, I'll stand my ground. I'm tough." I hope WIP likes this performance. Somebody break a window!
22. John Hammond, Bucks. Fixing Larry Harris's Yi Jianlian and Ersan Ilyasova mistakes deserve acknowledgement, and there's no doubt drafting Brandon Jennings is ultimately confident, but we can never forgive trading Amir Johnson for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic. In fact, trading for Carlos Delfino itself is a demerit; to pass off a built-to-throw-down-lobs livewire like Amir is just bad, bad frosting. ESQ is also negatively inspired by giving up Hakim Warrick for John Salmons, and for continuing to employ Charlie Bell.
21. Jeff Bower, Hornets. Playing his rookies when Scott wouldn't, proving he's gotten this team assets, these are great things. Unfortunately, it's window dressing compared to the task of convincing Chris Paul that the Hornets have a real foundation. Don't go get a haircut when you're losing blood out of your abdomen, or beat up little kids when their parents aren't looking.
20. Geoff Petrie, Kings. Petrie had a successful draft -- Evans at No. 4 is a star, and Omri Casspi at No. 23 might be the fifth best player of the draft when all is said and done. But the dude leaks talent every year, this time giving up stud-in-his-prime Kevin Martin. If we keep up at this rate, the team will be ready to rebuild in 2016.
19. Ernie Grunfeld, Wizards. Saying he wants Arenas to stay has to count for some kind of brazen, right?
18. Bryan Colangelo, Raptors. Still got those collars. If he'd only pop them once or twice, many sins would be forgotten.
17. Kevin O'Connor, Jazz. Have they stopped printing cash in Utah? Seriously, the Jazz have taken the most literal-minded approach to saving money of any team in the league. Actually, ordinarily D-League guys and undrafted would be seem underdog B.S., but O'Connor makes it work because he knows he can.
16. David Kahn, Timberwolves. Is Kahn too high? There's a reason: volatility is frightening, and no one ever know what Kahn will do next. Imagine how difficult it will be for other teams to plan their draft boards behind Minnesota's picks.
15. Chris Wallace, Grizzlies. Let it be said that the Ronnie Brewer acquisition also stems from the Pau Gasol trade -- the Grizzlies turned Javaris Crittenton into a 2010 pick Memphis had previously given Washington for the rights to Juan Carlos Navarro; that pick paved the way for the Brewer pick-up. (Of course, this just corrects the Navarro disaster, right?) Zach Randolph has killed many a GM (well, just Isiah, who was well on his way already), but Z-Bo's swagger seems to have rubbed off on Wallace.
14. Rick Sund, Hawks. Stepfather incarnate.
13. Rod Higgins/Michael Jordan, Bobcats. We're faced with an interesting equation here. Michael Jordan is the epitome of NBA swagger, or at least the socially acceptable kind that prefigured Allen Iverson's all-out assault. He seems intent on doing nothing as an executive that carries on that legacy. He might as well be that guy who got fired from the Bucks. Therefore, we're denied the ultimate yardstick of swagger, as well as a definitive statement of how swagger might translate into the front office, because MJ is so incapable (or unwilling) to let this part of him stand up and be counted. His threatens the very existence of this list.
12. Danny Ainge, Celtics. He went from worst to first. So did Doc Rivers. They'll coast on that until they're both fired in 2020.
11. Donnie Nelson, Mavericks. He's a Nelson. That's like being a Kennedy, but mostly only when it comes to the bad parts.
10. Pat Riley, Heat. Honestly, Dwyane Wade played Riley like a harpiscord. If LeBron has implicit power in Cleveland, Wade's has been fairly explicit, and I must say Riley's in a tough position heading into July -- he's ceded power to the Knicks (the only other team with room for two max free agents). By getting Amar'e Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer, Riley had a chance to secure the team's position as the one with two capos. Instead, he's got to hope Wade prefers to convince one of his friends to come to South Beach before they convince him to go to New York.
9. Mark Warkentien, Nuggets. Look, it's the Nuggets. Their mascot raises hell, their trainer taunts 700 Club hosts, and after all their years, they're still the Nuggets. The man who refuses to give up on J.R. Smith, who took on the Birdman, who never gets that "legit other big man" they supposedly need to contend, that's Mark Warkentien. So what if he sounds like a French Andy Kauffmann sketch -- he's the man who keeps the Nuggets intact, so you know he keeps a cinder block under his pillowcase.
8. Donnie Walsh, Knicks. He's convinced the unofficial capitol of Western Civilization that cap space is the same as the actual signing of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. That would be some grade-A populist mind control if I didn't think that he himself also firmly believed this. Can you sell jerseys with the salary cap on them?
7. Otis Smith, Magic. He signed Rashard Lewis to a super-max deal because Lewis fit the team. He took on Vince Carter as if he did. He's got Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass both feeling itchy for playing time and wishing they were elsewhere -- all he seemed to get out of it was screwing over the Mavericks because it gave him pleasure. I don't know if it's swagger, but Smith really does not give an eff about wandering off cliffs. I think he's so at peace with himself and his various excesses that he figures eventually, the wind and tide will carry the Magic back up to the clouds. These are leaps of faith by a man who simply doesn't sweat, which is cool, but kind of too spacey. Smith would be number one with a bullet if he had one-sixtieth of his coach's belligerence.
6. R.C. Buford, Spurs. As befitting Greg Popovich's intelligence background -- I can't remember if he's Richard Clarke's BFF or stunt double -- Buford, a central player in the San Antonio love machine, always stays just under the radar. First, he spent time overseas, as a covert op snatching up the rights to foreign dudes in the draft. Then, it was signing washed-up vets for one more go-round. He's been Valerie Plame-d now, but the Spurs still hum along like he's trying to fade into the woodwork again. Richard Jefferson hasn't worked out, but there's a lot of year left. More importantly, though, DeJuan Blair, Roger Mason, Jr. and George Hill are locked and loaded. He'll dispose of Manu without international incident, bask in the wads of cap space he's got this summer without chasing a max-player dream, bring Tiago Splitter over, and have one last run for Tim Duncan. Then he will self-destruct.
5. Danny Ferry, Cavaliers. Ferry has been maligned for eons. But he managed to pull a quasi-All-Star Shaquille O'Neal for literally nothing, and landed Antawn Jamison for essentially the 30th pick in the draft. Every important player on the team has come from basically nothing (except No. 1 pick LeBron James, of course). Ferry loses points for losing the Anderson Varejao War with agent Dan Fegan.
4. Kevin Pritchard, Blazers. When you get dismissed by Mrs. Hedo Turkoglu, that's a swag attack. Trading away Brandon Roy's best friend (Travis Outlaw) helps halt the bleeding -- don't you step outta line, LaMarcus Aldridge! -- but the days of Pritchslap are over. He's smart and confident enough to rise again, though.
3. Sam Presti, Thunder. Answer me this, does quiet-as-kept Kevin Durant have swagger? Has it crested in the least during his torrid start to 2010? So it is with Presti as the architect of a team that's fiscally responsible without -- no offense to Morey here -- feeling like it's trying cut corners. He is vision walking softly, a downright Biblical conception of what it means to carry yourself like a boss. Yes, I just compared Durant and Morey to Jesus. I watch a lot of basic cable.
2. Mitch Kupchak, Lakers. Kupchak has been surprisingly wild, given his reputation. The Ron Artest-Trevor Ariza decision was shocking, and not something any other title contender would have pulled.
1. Daryl Morey, Rockets. If Morey's supercomputer and team of scientists didn't frighten you after last year's infamous New York Times profile of Shane Battier, then this star-less playoff team he assembled ought to. Tell me you aren't worried the Trevor Ariza Catastrophe isn't just some grand experiment in competitive psychology, the results of which will help Morey and Co. turn Yao Ming into a basketball Conan the Destroyer. Morey has recovered from the unfortunate Marcin Gortat love letter quickly and viciously.