Ryan McGee writes
in ESPN: The Magazine
that Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has turned over key decision-making responsibilities to GM Rich Cho, who held the same position for the Portland Trail Blazers.
"Every single one of those moves is evidence that Michael is serious about getting out of the way," a rival Eastern Conference GM says. "They are now going to succeed or fail with Rich. And I can guarantee you that Michael has made sure that Rich knows that."
That same executive describes the 47-year-old Cho as a "Moneyball kind of guy," respected around the league for his involvement in the construction of the rosters of both Portland and Oklahoma City. According to Cho, when he left his job as the Trail Blazers GM to come to Charlotte 15 months ago, his marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific -- build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top. The old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But as he learned last year, even "MJ" appearing on their caller IDs wasn't enough to offset the lure of LA.
"In today's world of restricted free agency, that's much tougher to do than it used to be," says Cho, who's already earned praise from around the league for a draft-eve trade that brought in Ben Gordon and, more important, a protected 2013 first-round pick. "It's a system where a team that has a player isn't going to lose that player easily. That limits the shopping list. A young guy isn't going anywhere because a team is willing to spend on potential. So we have to find potential."
Which makes sense. But how exactly did Jordan come to see the truth in it? According to Cho, Jordan's buy-in goes back to Cho's first job interview, in which the former Boeing engineer-turned-law student-turned-NBA exec openly questioned the Bobcats' antiquated scouting methods. Cho said the team needed a bigger scouting staff and new software. Jordan, swayed, hired both Cho and that expanded staff, handing them a six-figure budget to create a proprietary Internet-fueled database. Now Cho's phone can instantly dig up and stack scouting reports, news stories and contract details on every professional and college player on the planet. A bit more sophisticated than an MJ March hunch.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter