The hottest name being floated in Portland's search for a new GM right now is former Cleveland exec Danny Ferry. About a third of the mailbag questions sitting in my box right now are about him, most having come in the last three days. What kind of fire might be smoldering beneath all this smoke?
Several things recommend Ferry. He was a heady player from the Duke system. He cut his teeth in management with San Antonio. Combined that's a top-line pedigree. The guy knows the game, he knows winning, he knows what a good organization looks like.
The party line around Blazers HQ says they want somebody well-versed in the art of the deal. Building through the draft is important but this team has gone past the stage of making major leaps on Draft Day. They need to create their opportunities instead of shuffling around in a league-wide line for them. They need to retain their current core and find spare parts on the cheap as well. Ferry has experience in all of these areas. Both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili re-signed with the Spurs on his watch. Coach Gregg Popovich extended as well. He overturned the Cavaliers' roster early in his tenure, signing Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones. A couple years later he really started wheeling and dealing, turning Hughes into Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, and Delonte West. In succeeding years he got Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, and finally Antawn Jamison. Rumors had some of these acquisitions coming from sources above Ferry in the Cleveland food chain but regardless of rationale, the GM still had to do the legwork to get them done. As he's grown from one of the bright young minds of the league into a semi-seasoned executive Ferry has shown that he can get you players.
The biggest critique I have of Danny Ferry's work is that I've liked so few of the players he actually brought in. Of all the names mentioned in the paragraph above (save the obvious San Antonio extensions) only Moon, West, and maybe Shaq hold even vague titillation. The rest induce as many groans and worries as cheers. It's like having a friend who is good at putting the moves on but he has awful taste in women. King James masked many of those moves in Cleveland. He's going to make players look better just by the attention he receives on the floor. No matter what Ferry did it was LeBron and everybody else. Portland's roster is interconnected, interdependent. Throw an ugly wrench in the gears and the machine will break down. The players are young enough to lose confidence in such a situation as well, perhaps causing secondary damage beyond the measure of the actual move. This organization will require a delicate hand as well as a firm and competent one. Is Ferry that guy?
Danny Ferry might not be the best GM in the league right now but he's likely the best GM available right now, a critical distinction from Portland's point of view. Were the Blazers to sign him I'd feel excitement tinged with worry. I'm not entirely sure that the worry is completely Ferry-induced. The bar here is high and any GM will be challenged to meet it. But I'd worry about Ferry doing so nonetheless. Acquiring him seems like a good move but not a no-brainer.
That's my take. What's yours? Would you be happy with Danny Ferry at the helm? Reflect below.