Thursday, May 15, 2008

Danny Ainge Wins Award For Being Luckiest GM In League



So, here's a quick scenario for you to ponder.

Say there's a guy at your job. He does his job terribly for several years. He's mocked by all others in the company, the employees not necessarily under him but who depend on him hate him, and he's managed to squander one of the key assets for the company year after year after year. He's on the verge of being shipped out of town on a rail.

Then, all of a sudden, he manages to get a guy who's on the backside of his career but wants to pick up a few more bucks. This guy has been known to be excellent, but he takes a bunch of sick days. The company on the West coast that the works for is going through a massive overhaul, and they're laying off people left and right. So he gets that guy primarily through desperation. But wait. There's more.

This guy at your job has an old college buddy in a small firm in the Midwest. His friend has an employee who's just amazing. He's simply better at his job than anyone else. He works harder, puts in more time, and is more of a workaholic than anyone else you've heard of. The guy at your office talks to his friend, and they do each other a favor. The best part is, his old golfing buddy used to work at your office! He knows everybody and wants to see them succeed. It really seems like he cares more about your office than his own, who he's in charge of. So anyway, they work out a deal where the guy at your office ships his golf buddy some left over cargo and a developing set of resources that aren't really ready for maximum use yet. And your buddy recommends the East Coast office to his employee and sends him packing, even when he's got better offers on the table.

So now your guy hasn't really changed anything, he hasn't shifted his approach, he hasn't become any different than the guy he was, he hasn't actually made any long term moves that benefit your company. All he's done is grab some lucky assets that happen to be on the market, with some generous assistance from a company hemorrhaging and an old golfing buddy. He's still the same guy. So what do you do?

You give him an award saying he's done the best job of anyone this year.

Yes.

Clearly.

Also, the next guy that wins the Powerball should get "Financial Strategist of the Year."

Look, I know it can seem like I have a thing against the Celtics, but I really don't. I'm as in awe of this collection of superstars and role players as anyone. I want KG to man up, prove that he's not just a guy that screams a lot and hits jumpers in the third quarter, and see him get the ring he deserves. I want to see Paul Pierce rewarded, after following his game since he was drafted. I love Sam Cassell and the impact he brings for leadership, and I'm stunned every time I watch Rondo out-rebound guys three times his size. But I'm not willing to give them awards over more qualified people just because its' really cool that the Celtics are back and their team is interesting.

Danny Ainge was never able to put competent people around Pierce. He kept Doc Rivers around even though he's incredibly outmatched even against Mike Freaking Brown. In a year, he's gone from on the red hot seat to Exec of the Year? Are you serious? And people are bitching about the guy in New Orleans? Seriously?

Let's be very clear about this. I'm not disputing the amazing turnaround the team made this year. But Danny Ainge didn't have to do much jiggering. The Sonics were looking to ditch Allen in a firesale, and Allen's not an asset people jump over themselves for. And this morning on the Jones, they said that Ainge lowered Kevin McHale's drawers. If that happened, it's only because Kevin McHale took Ainge's hand and helped him pull them down. Yeah, there's an image for you to relish. There was no highway robbery done in this situation. McHale wanted to help the Celtics out, and knew he could get Al Jefferson and some young pieces for Garnett, who he had no choice but to trade. Ainge didn't outsmart anyone, he was given the keys to the fire engine by the fireman because he's "special."

Then you look at Mitch Kupchak. Don't get me wrong. I'm no friend of the Lake show. But here's Kupchak's resume for the year.

  • Didn't trade his superstar after said superstar flat out demanded a trade and was making life miserable for all of his teammates. He weathered the storm and didn't get screwed by anybody in a deal.
  • Didn't panic and make a huge trade before the season to try and pacify Kobe only to exacerbate the situation.
  • Stuck with Andrew Bynum and didn't trade him for immediate assets, allowing him to develop into the beast he is (if he ever gets healthy).
  • Signed Derek Fisher to give the Lakers a veteran leadership guy that can anchor the backcourt and give Kobe a shooter he can rely on.
  • Managed the D-League affiliate Defenders well, including developing Farmar there over the last year and letting him have a pivotal role in the offense.
  • Walked into Memphis, figuratively, his feet ten feet off the ground, grabbed Pau Gasol, dumped one of the biggest busts in NBA history and a combo guard they don't need, along with a pick they don't need, and returned to his mansion to count his millions. That's not bad for a day's work.
The fact is that Kupchak had to manage quite a bit more than Ainge did, and yet the voters chose to give Ainge the award, simply based off of record.

Furthermore, no one's talking about that, they seem to think that's fine. They're more perplexed as to why New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower won the award. Which is a reasonable question, though I would probably suggest it has something to do with non-basketball related operations related to the work done by the team in the community and bringing together a cohesive unit.

I'm not saying that the Celtics aren't an amazing team, they are. (Though an underachieving one so far in the playoffs. You can talk all you want about taking care of business, but this team should have smoked the Cavs last night, not been down 14 in the first half and then unable to completely put them away late in the game.) But the credit for that needs to go to Kevin Garnett, to Paul Pierce, to Rajon Rondo. Danny Ainge doesn't deserve the award any more than the guy that wins the Powerball deserves "Financial Investor of the Year."

 
Add to Technorati Favorites