Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Poaching Buford

Adrian Wojnarowski comments on Kevin McHale's move from the front office to the sidelines in this way:
Now, Glen Taylor plays one more shell game on the Timberwolves fans. He sends Kevin McHale downstairs to coach this flawed creation, insisting that prosperity is just around the corner with all those picks and salary-cap space. Taylor just shuffled a losing deck. This operation is going nowhere, and the sooner the owner stops his hero worship of an NBA legend, the sooner his franchise can begin to restore its respectability. He ought to take one of those plane tickets and fly an accomplished NBA executive into Minneapolis and clean house on that dysfunctional mess.
Wojnarowski is spot-on, which worries me. The T-Wolves are one "accomplished NBA executive" away from a fast recovery.

Every season I worry that some owner will wise-up and offer R.C. Buford full control of a workable situation. I was initially surprised that Buford was not in the NY Knicks mix prior to the hiring of Walsh. But truth be told, Buford would not have played in NY the way Walsh does. The Knickerbockers made the right move.

But the T-Wolves situation is different. It's a small market in an attractive position. Al Jefferson is an All-Star caliber big man, Kevin Love is a promising rookie. They have cap space. They have draft picks. It would fit R.C. Buford like a glove. The best thing Glen Taylor could do for the T-Wolves is name Buford President of Basketball Operations, and get out of the way. Come this summer, that's the last major basketball decision he should be in on, and would it have been his best decision to date.

As I've argued elsewhere, the next couple years are a critical time for San Antonio. It's my contention that the franchise will play at a championship level through 2012. But it won't be easy to maintain. The front office will have to earn their keep to guard against the foibles of an aging roster that lacks trade assets and immediate cap space. Losing Buford would be a hard hit at a critical time.

Buford has never hinted at anything other than complete satisfaction in San Antonio. Pop will retire with Duncan, most likely after the 2012 season. If Buford is patient, he'll inherit Popovich's President of Basketball Operations throne, and have full rule over the court. It's a nice situation--it might be the best front office position in the league. It would take a phenomenal offer to convince him to leave San Antonio.

But one wonders what Buford thinks of the Spurs post-Duncan chances. Does he want to be at the helm when the San Antonio star is likely to lose its luster? No one knows. For my part this is pure conjecture. But if Glen Taylor is smart he'd make it a high priority to approach Buford this offseason--an approach that could signal the first time Gregg Popovich doesn't phone the other team's owner to rally for his guy. And let's not forget, the loss of Buford would be compounded by the convoy of moving trucks in his tow; the loss of Buford could mean the loss of, say, Mike Budenholzer and Dennis Lindsey too. However unlikely, it's not a pleasant thought for the San Antonio faithful.


philip said...

I would not want to be the GM of the Spurs, especially in the post-Duncan era. Expectations are very high in S.A. after all the success they've had, but they're also the smallest media market in the league (or were, maybe oklahoma city is smaller).

You'd be following someone who is brilliant and was also extremely lucky (ask Rick Pitino). I'd much rather take over a team in disarray like the T-wolves, the fans and owners will be more patient.

Timothy Varner said...

It's hard to say what would be most attractive to R.C. Buford. But the safe money says he's a lifer.

Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) said...

Why are we even speculating on this?

G Wolf said...

What makes you think Lindsey is married to the idea of staying in Buford's shadow, or is at all loyal to Buford?