Sartre: “It is only in our decisions that we are important.”
Apparently, Jean-Paul knew a great deal about basketball, and more specifically, the role of the basketball general manager. Because, let’s be honest: the role of the general manager is entirely consumed with the making of important decisions. Recently, Otis Smith has come under fire for some of the decisions that he has made as GM of the Orlando Magic. I think that the question of whether Otis should stay or go is an interesting one, whether it is academic or not. To that end, what follows here is a kind of “Otis Smith Rubric” which I invite you to complete.
First, how do you judge a general manager? Well, at the most fundamental level, you judge him by the decisions he makes, which take the form of transactions. This is not necessarily a simple task. Otis Smith has made 82 transactions during his tenure as GM (all data from hoopshype.com). And, let’s be honest, not all of these transactions are really worth examining, nor are they all created equal (was the waiving of Center Ruben Boumtje Boumjte a turning point in the Magic’s 05-06 season? New poll question-you decide!!)
So, what follows are a list of Otis Smith’s major transactions as GM of the Orlando Magic. (I decided what was major all by myself, so it’s a horribly biased sample, and you are free to disagree with it in the comments section). I propose that we rank these transactions using an ordinal scale ranging from 1 (totally boneheaded) to 5 (pure genius). After the transactions are ranked, the sum will allow us to determine Otis Smith’s effectiveness as a GM.
1. 2005, May: Named Brian Hill head coach.
2. 2005 draft: Fran Vazquez.
3. 2005 draft: Traded cash for Marcin Gortat’s draft rights.
6. 2006 draft: JJ Redick. (Subsequently signed Redick).
7. 2007, May-June: Fired Brian Hill. Billy Donovan thing. Hired Stan Van Gundy.
8. 2007, July: Traded for Rashard Lewis.
9. 2007, August: Signed Marcin Gortat.
11. 2008, Draft: Courtney Lee. (Signed.)
12. 2008, July: Signed Mickael Pietrus.
13. 2009, February: Traded Keith Bogans for cash and Tyronn Lue.
14. 2009, February: Traded Brian Cook for Rafer Alston.
17. 2009, July: Signed Brandon Bass.
18. 2009, July: Matched offer sheet for Marcin Gortat.
19. 2009, July: Signed Matt Barnes.
21. 2010, July: Signed Chris Duhon.
22. 2010, July: Signed Quentin Richardson.
23. 2010, July: Matched offer sheet for JJ Redick.
24. 2010, December: Traded Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas.
Here is the grading scale, which I also completely made up by myself. 125 Possible points.
125 – 113 = A
112 – 100 = B
88 – 99 = C
75 – 87 = D
74 or below = F
A few caveats: a lot of the transactions above are now divorced from their context, unless the reader is familiar with the deal (Brian Cook for Rafer Alston, for instance). Also, as I mentioned previously, not all of those transactions are created equal (signing Rashard was a much bigger deal monetarily than signing Barnes) but they are all considered equally within my grading scale. I guess what I am trying to say is that this is in no way scientific, but it does give us a jumping-off point for the purpose of discussion.
I think that any discussion regarding Otis Smith has to consider his tenure from a gestalt perspective, and that’s what I have attempted to do here. As always, I look forward to your comments below. You can find my score there.