When you’ve been on the job for less than a week, indecisiveness reigns supreme. Just ask Magic GM Rob Hennigan or newly appointed Atlanta Hawks boss Danny Ferry. Both were named General Managers for their respective teams with little time to prepare for the draft and it is showing.
Both teams have players in Josh Smith and Dwight Howard who have been shopped around for almost a year, but neither is ready to pull the trigger. With Houston trying to send two top-10 picks to Orlando and multiple teams showing strong interest in Smith, now is the time to make a deal. In what is considered one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, Atlanta and Orlando could both bring back young talent for their outgoing stars, but neither Hennigan nor Ferry feel comfortable shaking up a roster they’ve had only a few days to mull over.
And honestly, you can’t blame either one of them for being gun shy.
The mistake here lies with the owners and management in both Orlando and Atlanta. When the Magic decided to part ways with GM Otis Smith on May 21 there should have been a contingency plan in place. Instead, Orlando performed their due diligence and considered every option available, taking over a month to find the right guy to run their basketball operations. Unfortunately for Orlando, time was a luxury they did not have.
It is safe to assume that the fates of both Otis Smith and former head coach Stan Van Gundy had long since been sealed. Therefore, Orlando should have been preparing for their departures long ago. They should have been ready to find a replacement for Smith in 2 weeks or less. By hiring Hennigan days before the draft, they have put him in an awful situation. Now may be the best time to deal Howard, but without giving him ample time to assess the lay of the land, Hennigan is not prepared to trade Howard for what may ultimately be the best package offered to him this offseason. Realistically this would take some creativity on the part of Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but if Houston could offer two top-10 picks, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, is that not likely better than any package Brooklyn, Dallas, or Los Angeles is going to offer in the foreseeable future?
Likewise, Atlanta knew that the contract for Rick Sund was set to expire June 30, but instead waited until three days (yes, 3 DAYS) before the draft to bring in Ferry. How could anyone expect him to be prepared to flip Josh Smith for draft picks when the ink on Ferry’s new six-year contract has barely even dried?
None of this is to say that Hennigan and Ferry are not prepared for the draft this evening. No, I expect these two to be among the most prepared in the league. They will surely know the available players backwards and forwards; it is just that their lack of familiarity with the rosters they just inherited is limited and, because of this, so are they. Their respective owners have not put them in a position to wheel and deal on a night when they ought to be most flexible. The draft presents the best time in the year to make a trade as team’s try to set themselves up for long-term success with young talent. Bad timing likely will stop these two new GMs from making much noise tonight.