Here’s a theory for you: If you’re a GM, what’s the best way to make sure you’ll stay employed for four to five years? The answer: Blow everything up, bottom out, build around young players/cap space/lottery picks, make a bunch of first-round picks, and sell the "illusion of hope" to your fans. What the new wave of young GMs like Sam Hinkie, Ryan McDonough and Rob Hennigan are doing is extremely smart — both from a basketball standpoint and a self-preservation standpoint — because it’s hard for anyone to say "YOU FAILED!" when you’re executing a multiyear plan that can’t be judged until 2016 or 2017 at the earliest.
I’d like to see people in other professions try this. For instance, the guy who runs ABC right now, Paul Lee, is mired in a two-year mega-slump. I think he’s launched 23 shows in the past two years and only two of them have had even mild success. Last week, Kimmel’s 11:35 late-night show outrated ABC’s 10 p.m. prime-time show on three different nights. That’s almost impossible.
OK, so let’s say Paul Lee started thinking like an NBA GM. What would happen? He’d tell everybody, "Look, we fell into the bad habit here of throwing up 10 to 12 shows every year just because we had to have new shows for our schedule. I gotta be honest, I knew most of these shows wouldn’t work. But we needed to put SOMETHING on. So next year, I’m swinging the other way — I have only two new shows that I like, so we’re launching those and that’s it. Instead of wasting your time with the other eight to 10 shows that won’t work, I’m filling those spots with the cheapest reality shows possible, then long-term, I’m using the extra money we saved on failed pilots and lousy pilots to develop better shows with more accomplished showrunners. We’re going to be really good … in 2016!"
You know what would happen if Paul Lee announced that? He’d get fired within five minutes. But in the NBA, everyone accepts that mind-set and even encourages it. Hey, fans — who’s ready to bottom out? Who wants to hinge their hopes to a bunch of maybes and might-bes? Totally bizarre. I find it hard to believe that every Phoenix fan would rather use those four first-rounders over parlaying one or two of them into players who would make this season’s already-fun Suns team even more fun. But what do I know?Bill Simmons