First let me say that I’d definitely argue the perception that Danny Ferry is a “so-so” general manager. His team had the best record in the league the last two seasons and was in the Finals before that.
Look, just having LeBron James isn’t enough to win a title. And surrounding him with talented players, given the problems with the salary cap, was not easy. Add to that the fact that there was a gun to Ferry’s head the last two seasons. He’s known James was likely to go somewhere else when his contract expired and the race was on to win a title before James hit the exit door.
That forces you sometimes to make deals that are not in the long-term best interests of a team. Talk about winning NOW — man, the heat was on. But the team he assembled in Cleveland was good enough to win the most games in the league. You can belittle that all you want, but the fact is, for the last two seasons the Cavs were the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.
You can hold Ferry responsible for not winning a title if you like, but it’s not that easy. The point is, he put his coach and team in a great position to win, which is just about all a GM can do.
Now, what about other candidates?
People keep telling me how good David Griffin is. He’s the former assistant in Phoenix. But as I understand it, he’s a Warren LeGarie guy, so I’m not sure if he’s a legit candidate for the job.
One name that hasn’t been mentioned is another former Blazer, Jim Paxson. This is the man who drafted James in Cleveland and a former assistant GM in Portland to Bob Whitsitt. I’m not sure, though, if “Pax” wants to leave his new home in Phoenix, though. He’s now working as a consultant to the Chicago Bulls, where his brother John is GM.
Another former Blazer, Dave Twardzik, has been the assistant GM in Orlando, where the Magic have become an Eastern Conference power and I’m surprised he’s not a candidate. He’s solid and would probably love to return to the city he’s always considered his NBA home.
Funny, but there are some other well-qualified ex-Blazers out there to consider. Geoff Petrie, in Sacramento, is the best one, of course. But it doesn’t seem he’s interested in the job, although he’s said to still have a very good relationship with Paul Allen.
And Kiki Vandeweghe, if he’d fire Warren LeGarie, would probably also get some consideration. And I haven’t even mentioned one other ex-Blazer — Celtic GM Danny Ainge, who wouldn’t take the job, of course.
Still, you have to say the Blazers have certainly provided a terrific field of candidates, should Allen decide to go there.
UPDATE: Sorry, forgot another ex-Blazer — Wayne Cooper, Petrie’s assistant in Sacramento. He’s going to be a GM someday, too.