The Best Of What's Around
I said during Tuesday's Just Casey
, even with the abrupt dismissal this week of Rich Cho, that the Trail Blazers general manager job is still a great gig. Some of you wrote that off as PR regurgitation from a company man. That's understandable, but consider a few things.
First off, NBA general manager jobs are always desirable. There's only 30 such positions in the world, said positions pay relatively well and you have an opportunity to be a World Champion without ever putting on a pair of sneakers.
And the GM job in Portland is leaps and bounds better than the average NBA gig. Though you have to fit a specific set of criteria to get the job, you're still working for an owner who is willing to spend, something roughly half the general managers currently working in the NBA can't say.
Then there's the current roster. Sure, there are issues to be addressed, but you'd still be inheriting a team with multiple all-star caliber players mixed with young, potential all-star talent. Most of the time new general managers are taking on reclamation projects, and no matter what your opinion is of the current roster, you'd have a hard time arguing this team couldn't win big, and soon, with a few tweaks.
And you'd be the head of a team that has the most devoted fanbase in the NBA, something NO other GM in the league can say.
I understand why you wouldn't believe me though. I'd be skeptical too if I were you. But as Levar Burton was so fond of saying, don't take my word for it.
"It's a coveted job and it should be a coveted job," Bob Whitsitt told Joe Freeman of the Oregonian
. "In my mind, it's one of the best jobs you can get right now."
Whitsitt held the general manager job in Portland for nine years before being released. I guess the cynic in you might argue he's saying kind things about the job because he's interested in giving it another go-round, but he's also a guy who has been fired my Allen, so there's that. And he's not the only guy with GM experience who thinks the top job in Portland is still a good get.
"There's legitimate cause for concern," said Steve Kerr, who himself resigned as Suns general manager and now works on TNT broadcasts. "But to say that job isn't coveted is the convenient thing to say right now. If someone was interested in a GM job, Portland still stands out. It's still desirable."
And that's really what I'm getting at. Are the Trail Blazers going to be able to coax a top-tier GM away from another team? Maybe not, but those guys never leave anyway, and every other executive in the league with designs on one day or once again being a GM knows that. A guy could grow old waiting for the best general manager job to come open.
I break it down like this. There are eight general managers with near to absolute iron-clad job security. Those jobs aren't opening up anytime soon unless the current GM decides to leave, which isn't likely. I count six more teams with tenuous ownership situations that even the most ardent critic of Mr. Allen would admit are worse than what we have here in Portland (or at least worse than the perception of what we have here in Portland). I count four teams with ongoing financial difficulty that have significantly affected personnel decisions made by those teams. And finally, I count two teams that are perennial losers that also have a mix of the issues listed above. That's twenty teams total, leaving ten possible general manager positions conceivably available that the media and public could realistically consider better than the job here in Portland. That's slim pickings.
Every general manager is subject to the whims of their owner. Every. Single. One. If you can get over that, you're likely to find that being the general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers is a better job than most.