Friday, March 19, 2010

Jordan's Performance in DC

Via ESPN's Truehoop, I note that new Bobcats owner Michael Jordan attempted today to take credit for the success of the Washington Wizards over the last decade:

When I first got to Washington, people didn’t understand the financial position that team was facing. In Washington we put together a five year plan that included clearing huge salaries off the books to create cap flexibility, and building a roster that would become a playoff contender. In just three years, we went from almost $22 million over the cap to more than $8 million under, and traded veterans with big contracts for young talent. In year five, with a roster made up mostly of guys we brought in, they made the playoffs.

Let us review the chronology of Jordan's tenure with the Wizards, however.

Jordan was hired to run the Wizards' basketball operations midway through the 1999-2000 season. He was fired by owner Abe Pollin in May 2003 just after the regular season concluded. (You will recall that in that period he also decided to return as a player, an oddly self-indulgent decision.)

Following the MJ departure, the Wizards signed Gilbert Arenas, previously of Golden State, as a free agent in July 2003 and acquired Antawn Jamison by trade (for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner, and a draft pick which became Devin Harris) in July 2004. The Wizards finally made the playoffs, with Arenas and Jamison as their best players, in April 2005. They went on to make the playoffs in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Jordan clearly was not responsible for the acquisition of those two players (or for Caron Butler, who was acquired in a trade with the L.A. Lakers in the summer of 2005), who together proved to be the core of the Wizards' playoff half-beast. It really is not clear to me what role he played in the construction of that team. His major acquisitions for the Wizards — Laettner, Kwame Brown, Larry Hughes, and Stackhouse — were all gone by July 2005.

In 2002 he also signed his gambling buddy Charles Oakley as a free agent and his one-time nemesis Bryon Russell, probably so that, as a GM-player, he could settle the controversy from his original "push off" (the genesis of this blog's name) against Russell in 1998. He also traded away promising young guard Richard Hamilton, who eventually proved to be the starter on a six-time conference finals team, because Hamilton had rubbed Jordan wrongly on the court.

I certainly hope that he does a better job with Charlotte than he did with Washington.

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