Putting the names to the faces of the NBA’s general managers may pose a challenge for many people, especially since most of them don’t mind working behind the scenes. Most general managers intentionally hide themselves from the view of the crowd, working at getting the best players to join their franchises. Daryl Morey may be one exception to the rule. If you are a serious basketball fan, especially of the NBA, you probably know the names of the most current coaches who are trying to lead their teams to victory on the basketball court. However, how many GMS do you know?
These days, the teams around the NBA have been scouting for analytic individuals with a business or legal mind to interview for the job of general manager, leaving out many ex-NBA players. It's not necessarily a bad idea to not go the more conventional route of former players turned executives, as we've seen mixed results and going in a different direction may be a better move.
Below is a list of prospective NBA GMs that you or the NBA franchises may soon consider for the job. If you are not in agreement with the names presented here, of course, you are entitled to disagree, but be sure to ponder on this as a foresight of what may be to come. This might be a prophetic example of observing the potential before it is actually announced. Just because potential GMs are out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of your mind – at least that is why this list was made. These prospects have yet to lead basketball operations in the NBA on their own. Most of them are assisting other GMs and some have essentially interviewed for a GM position in the past without success. Let us go meet the list to see if any of them have the potential to negotiate contracts, oversee operations of coaching staff and maintain calm and confidence in a high profile job.
11 Bonus: Michael Winger, Oklahoma City Thunder
Will Michael Winger be leaped over by one of his peers when it comes to landing the job as a GM? It happened to his predecessor, Troy Weaver so why not? Winger is considered a salary cap and negotiating contract guy more so than Weaver who is better at scouting and handling personnel matters. Even though, it might not make sense to many, the NBA franchises are looking for people who have a deep legal mind like Winger who has a J.D. as well as a basketball mindset. In Winger’s case, he knows basketball because of a long tenure in the NBA. If the Cleveland Cavaliers had fired David Griffin when the 2013-14 season ended, many think that Winger would have been summoned by Dan Gilbert. The only concern for the GM job now would be his scouting abilities. Let’s stick around and see.
10 Shareef Abdur-Rahim
As quietly as he went to the Sacramento Kings, Shareef Abdur-Rahim left just as quietly. He ran the team’s D-League affiliate Reno Bighorns during the 2013-14 seasons and was also the director of player personnel for the Kings. Under the leadership of Peter D’Alessandro, he assisted with a very busy front office.
No one knows why he left Sacramento, but it is clear that he has a bright future in the NBA. Perhaps we'll see him return to the league next season. Perhaps he could also work up his reputation by joining the Atlanta Hawks' front office since his is also a native of Atlanta, GA. Many people think that he has a keen eye and open to soaking up every bit of what he needs to succeed in a GM position. Of course, he might to make a stop at another NBA franchise before he is taken seriously.
9 Mike Zarren, Boston Celtics
Personnel boss, Danny Ainge can tell you a lot about Mike Zarren of the Boston Celtics, if you were to ask him. Ainge would tell you that Zarren has a serious analytical mind, knows how to work on salary caps and remains true to the metrics of his community. But the verdict is not yet completely out on this one since a strong analytical mind and salary cap are not the only prerequisites for the GM position. It may not be a bad move though, to give him a chance.
8 Tommy Sheppard, Washington Wizards
Tommy Sheppard is one person who has interviewed for several GM positions in the past. He has a long history and various responsibilities with the NBA like Weltman did. His strength is salary cap management and contract negotiation, but he also has some experience with scouting. Under Sheppards’ watch, Washington successfully rebuilt their team. Ernie Grunfeld, the current GM is hoping that Sheppard hangs around to see their vision through, but will he?
7 Bobby Marks, Brooklyn Nets
Anyone who is touted as a salary cap wizard for the Brooklyn Nets needs a second look. That is what Bobby Marks does best. The Nets have been able to maneuver around salary cap restrictions thanks to Marks's strategic planning. He deserves the credit of sorts. He is one to watch for a future GM position even though he may stick around the Nets for a few more years. It's not like he wanted to make Jason Kidd their coach, right?
6 Kenny Smith of TNT Network
Kenny Smith is a broadcaster with the TNT Network. He is also a retired basketball player. He knows his stuff when it comes to playing basketball and talking gab on TV, but front office positions are hardly going to former players. However, players like Kenny Smith who turned to a career in the media might follow the likes of Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr to land a job based on his public identity. With the amount of success Steve Kerr has experienced so far with the Warriors, perhaps teams won't scoff at TV analysts quite as much.
5 Brian Pauga, San Antonio Spurs
It's only normal for teams of any sport to look at the champions' formula of success, so Brian Pauga being courted is very possible. The list for front office position in the Spurs franchise is deep. Scouting Director, Brian Pauga also operates the D-League Affiliate in Austin, which is an important position for the Spurs organization. Working his way up the ladder of R.C. Buford since 2007, there are many NBA teams that will be demanding him soon. He could be the very guy from this list getting hired soon and thanks goes to the Spurs secretiveness. Don’t be surprised if Pauga gets an interview for GM in the near future.
4 Mark Hughes, New York Knicks
Pro Personnel Director of the New York Knicks, Mark Hughes also has a background in basketball coaching. Similar to the scouting professionals on the list, Hughes is going to have to prove that he can handle the complicated salary cap. He definitely has some understanding of it since he played in the NBA before and won a college basketball championship in Michigan in 1989. Is that enough, though? Well, with his strong reputation and traditional background, he will get some looks. He'll need more time so we could see what he'll do under the wings of Phil Jackson.
3 Travis Schlenk, Golden State Warriors
Travis Schlenk worked in Orlando during Chuck Daly’s tenure and went on to join the Golden State Warriors. His experience is combined with scouting and analytics and a solid reputation in a resilient front office, giving him an opportunity to be a GM in the future. When the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons had a GM opening, Travis Schlenk’s name was mentioned. Let’s see what happens next. As the Warriors continue winning, Schlenk's stock will continue to rise.
2 Gersson Rosas, Houston Rockets
Gersson Rosas got hired by the Mavericks to work with Donnie Nelson. But, he probably didn’t like his role. So he went back to the Houston Rockets where he manages scouting. In fact, he had a hand in the recruiting of Dwight Howard. If he were to get an interview for a GM job, he certainly would have to explain his move from the Mavericks to the Rockets in such a short time. However, the fact that he wasn’t afraid to make the move to another position that gave him some real power means that he just needs a team to believe in him.
1 Troy Weaver, Oklahoma City Thunder
Troy Weaver, many would say, is distinctively the best candidate for a GM job who has yet to get a chance to oversee a franchise. In the past, he has had several interviews for top NBA front office positions. Weaver has strong scouting abilities, recruiting Carmelo Anthony to the Syracuse team and supposedly led the front office gamble for drafting Russell Westbrook. In addition, he has worked in NBA front office positions for more than one decade. Those are some big aces in his favor, don’t you think?
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