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2014 PBT Awards: Executive of the Year

Apr 15, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

Ryan McDonough Ryan McDonough

Though none of us have a ballot for the NBA’s official awards, we’ll be presenting our choices and making our cases this week for each major honor.

Kurt Helin

1. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns

2. Neil Olshey, Portland Trail Blazers

3. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

I don’t think Ryan McDonough meant for his team to be this good, he kind of lucked into it. However he made two brilliant moves that gave this team core pieces — trading for Eric Bledsoe and hiring Jeff Hornacek — while still stockpiling picks and keeping the team in a good position with the salary cap to add free agents. Olshey was a close second getting Robin Lopez and adding Mo Williams, which combined with other factors is likely going to keep LaMarcus Aldridge a Blazer.

Brett Pollakoff

1. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns

2. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

3. Billy King, Brooklyn Nets

Stockpiled draft picks and acquired Eric Bledsoe and other low-salary players that had the team in contention for a playoff spot all season long, when it was widely assumed that the Suns would suffer a fate similar to that of the Sixers. Phoenix has cap space and plenty of picks moving forward to expedite the rebuilding process, and McDonough put it all into place.

Dan Feldman

1. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix Suns

2. Masai Ujiri, Toronto Raptors

3. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

Not only did McDonough build an excellent team by acquiring players of the scrap heap, he added multiple future first-round picks in the process. And he nailed a coaching hire, choosing Jeff Hornacek. This was elite general managing. Ujiri’s Rudy Gay trade was excellent, but fleecing the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani trade was even better. Morey convinced highly sought-after Dwight Howard to choose Houston, and under Morey’s watch, the Rockets continued the organizational-induced team building that convinced Howard to choose them in the first place.

  1. cantonb0und13 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    James Dolan/Steve Mills #SayNoOneEver

    • sportsfan18 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      The Holy Trinity…

      James Dolan, Jerry Jones/Dan Synder (they tie for football) & Jeffrey Luria of the Marlins in MLB.

  2. fanofthegame79 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    If Ryan McDonough from the Suns doesn’t win, I think it should be Masai Ujiri with the Raptors. The Raptors just had their best season ever and Ujiri made some very valuable moves to help get them there.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Agreed. My top 3 are McDonough, Ujiri, and Morey. All their teams made big jumps this year courtesy of moves they’ve made this year.

    • phaden27 - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      I really like what the Suns did but Ujiri should win based on fleecing the Knicks alone.

    • urodaddy07 - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:20 PM

      Ujuri gets my vote.

  3. unxpexted1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    I don’t get how Masai Ujiri isn’t a clear cut favorite. Their team is a 3 seed in the east after not making the playoffs and got rid of Bargaini and Rudy Gay’s contracts. Very good work. Has to be him

  4. spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    I guess RC Buford is just kind of EXPECTED to pull the eact player that SA needs out of his @ss every year, at a reasonable cost.

    • spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      damn, I wish there was an edit button.

    • casualcommenter - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      Buford made a very smart acquisition of Bellinelli this year. Otherwise?

      The Spurs roster is basically the same as last year’s, and the team is about as successful as last year’s team (58 vs 62 wins) so far.

      Keeping Splitter and signing Bellinelli this past offseason is nothing compared to the roster/win improvements made by the other GMs being named.

      GMs don’t win the award for adding more talent to an already talented core.
      Pat Riley hasn’t won Executive of the Year the past 2 years, despite adding guys like Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Chris Andersen in free agency to build a 2x NBA champion. He only won in 2011 for creating the Heat’s Big 3, but none of his other moves to further improve that “core” have been awarded. Same for Buford.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        But KEEPING the team basically the same year after year because you’be gotten good players and then continually replacing the one or two with smart moves is incredible.

        So, in any ONE season they may not make a huge jump or many moves, but that is the POINT.

        No team WANTS to have to make 4 or 5 moves and NO Team wants to have to improve by 20 or more wins in a season…

        The Spurs get overlooked for making something very difficult look so easy. People say they only had to make one or two moves or like you just said they only got Bellinelli this year…

        Having to only get 1 guy is a GOOD sign is it not? The G.M. had to do something right to ONLY need 1 player to acquire. Having to acquire 3 or 4 and getting them all right is still a bad thing for getting them in the position where they needed to go out and get 3 or 4 players. It’s like taking care of your house and car always doing what is needed so the don’t fall into disrepair or letting them go and then having to do a fixer upper to them…

      • spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Beli has a skillset that allows Manu to not do EVERYTHING off the bench. Last year, there was really no one to create except Manu, and he was also expected to score. He scores MUCH better playing off the ball, but there was no one else to create for him. Now, Marco can create and score and Manu can create and score.

        The Suns vastly improved, but ultimately didn’t make the playoffs. To me, that’s not much different than giving a player on a non-playoff team an award. It’s almost never done.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:23 PM

        McDonough wasn’t there last year so you can’t blame him for having to go get the players he did. Buford is a great GM but if you’re going to award it to him, award it to him the year when he made the moves to build the team he has maintained, not after he’s already built it.

      • unxpexted1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Right, that’s like giving somebody the MVP due to previous success. THe moves that that made previously is what made the Executive of the years. Can’t reward what they did this season for moves they made years back.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:12 PM

        In sports like tennis and golf where they have a player of the year, like Federer has done so well for so long, he won year after year after year…

        Buford as G.M. and POP as coach of the year is something that should have happened year after year after year…

        They ARE what teams are trying to get to… want to be in the playoffs every year? that’s them. kobe didn’t, MJ didn’t and on and on…

        Duncan WILL have played in the playoffs EVERY season of his career.

        they win 50 plus games every year

        they could have had a let done, an off season… Buford and POP did NOT let them. POP should have been the coach of the year for like 15 yrs in a row now.

        Also, I’m NOT a spurs fan but a Bulls fan since the 1970’s.

        The spurs are the best team and teams try to get to where they are at just for a year or two, to win a championship. the spurs have won 4 of the 5 finals they’ve played in the past 16 seasons…

        in 9 of the past 16 seasons they played in teh conference finals… MORE than half of the past 16 seasons they played for the right to get to the finals…

        in 5 of those 9 conf finals they advanced to the finals.

        in 4 of those 5 finals they won the finals…

        so they are playing well against playoff teams too, not just regular season.

        their playoff winning percentage is over .600 and well over .600 in their 5 finals…

        teams like the Hawks, the Kings, and many others would love a 3 to 4 yr stretch of being in the playoffs each year, winning 50 plus games and maybe winning a title…

        that would be crap for the Spurs…

        they writers are missing the boat entirely… who says taking a team that won say 29 games the year before (when you weren’t the coach or G.M. as they are gone) to 50 wins is better than keeping a team in the 55 to 62 win realm with EXPECTATIONS to do just that?

        we poo poo the Spurs, oh, they’re SUPPOSED to win 58 games… Really? The league is tough and guys want to knock them off…

        getting to #1 is tough, REMAINING at the top is even MORE difficult than getting to the top…

      • spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:20 PM

        @asmionetti88 The problem is that they DIDN’T recognize RC when he did make great transactions. The biggest irony is that they STOLE the pick used for Kawhi Leonard from Indy for ho hum talented but reticent George Hill, AND THEY GAVE THE AWARD THAT YEAR TO LARRY BIRD!!!!

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        “The problem is that they DIDN’T recognize RC when he did make great transactions.”

        Agreed but no point in retroactively awarding something.

        This is the executive of the year (2013-2014) not executive of lifetime.

        Buford made the right transactions, but he didn’t necessarily make the outstanding ones – this year.

        McDonough made some outstanding transactions THIS year. He doesn’t hold a candle to Buford in overall achievements, and if I’m looking to hire someone to run my franchise long term I’m still going Buford right now no question. But McDonough has had the most successful year. The Suns doubled their win total from last year- it’s hard to argue that is not a more impressive immediate achievement than keeping an already great team on top.

  5. spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    I guess RC Buford is just kind of EXPECTED to pull the exact player that SA needs out of his @ss every year, at a reasonable cost.

    • bougin89 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      You should feel lucky enough you guys have such a great organization. You don’t need this award, too. 😉

  6. tomtravis76 - Apr 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    How would you grade out the first year GM in Denver, Tim Connelly?

    • spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      Hard to say. Denver was so bange up this year.

  7. eugenesaxe1 - Apr 15, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    So little love for Olshey. I guess picking up Fropez/Mo/Robinson for scraps and going +20 over last year just isn’t as impressive as having a middling record in the E-League.

    Good thing you folks don’t have an official vote. Billy King? I thought the contest was about doing good, not spending the most money.

  8. cantonbound13 - Apr 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Pacers are the best team in the East! Right Leaha?

  9. sportsfan18 - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    put it this way, getting to the top is difficult. becoming #1 isn’t easy…

    but remaining on top, remaining number 1 for year after year is even MORE difficult than getting to #1

  10. spursareold - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    On second thought, I don’t want RC to win. Jerry Colangelo has won the thing FOUR TIMES with no titles, and Brian Colangelo has won, TWICE. WTF? Brian Colangelo? He’s one of the worst GMs of the last 10 years!!!

    I think this award is given for the opposite reasons stated in it’s description.

  11. pdixon920 - Apr 15, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Sam Hinkie!! Epically flawless tank job!

  12. tcclark - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    If the Sixers are good in a couple years does Sam Hinkie win for the job he did this year? He has set this franchise up with 2 lottery picks in consecutive years. Drafted possibly the two best players in this years draft. Set the team up with almost too much cap flexibility. aquired practically all of the second round picks the next three years. and still managed to create a positive atmosphere and a good learning environment for his young team.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      Great points. I’m interested to see what they’ll do with it all. They certainly used their picks more wisely than the Cavs – thinking about the Irving/Waiters drama and the guy from this season (what’s his name??).

    • sixerstrong - Apr 16, 2014 at 2:33 PM

      I guess that’s one of the fundamental flaws of an award such as this. Most of what GM’s do doesn’t actually show for years, however Hinkie’s immediate impact on this organization and the future of the team cannot be understated.

  13. phx1311 - Apr 15, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    The raptors are on the come up but guys come on, the suns traded Jared Dudley for eric bledsoe. That is the move of 2013.

    • jamesbenson1 - Apr 16, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      For me, Ujiri’s best move was to keep defensive minded Casey as coach while punting all the assistants for better help. Getting Patterson and Vasquez cannot be overstated either as it basically gave the team a bench.

  14. aldavisfortytime - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    The Kroenke family should be banished from professional sports for letting Masai go.

  15. 00maltliquor - Apr 15, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Masai Ujiri

    (LOL @ seeing Billy King in Brett’s top 3)

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