A couple of quickie updates from what might be the first offseason in NBA history to generate a GM carousel that seemingly never stops spinning:
1. The Spurs, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s plans, are lobbying Danny Ferry to come back to the organization where he began his front-office career and hope to convince him to commit to rejoining the organization in the coming days or weeks.
I was fully expecting Ferry to opt for a break from the game after he left the Cavs in early June following years of what proved to be justifiably stressful fretting about Cleveland’s ability to re-sign LeBron James.
Ferry instead wound up contending for the recent front-office openings in Portland and New Jersey, despite the fact that more than one of his peers A) struggled to see him working for Paul Allen’s meddlesome Blazers lieutenants after Dan Gilbert’s determination to reclaim more of a hands-on role contributed to his Cleveland departure and B) struggled even more to imagine him co-existing with Nets coach Avery Johnson after their frosty days together as teammates in San Antonio.
New Jersey eventually opted for the low-key move by hiring Billy King instead of Ferry to replace Rod Thorn, combined with an overdue promotion for unheralded Nets lifer Bobby Marks to assist King. But that move -- along with New Orleans’ hiring of Dell Demps away from the Spurs to run the Hornets’ front office -- has given San Antonio license to urge Ferry to return.
Ferry remains close with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and team president R.C. Buford and would work primarily with Buford and highly respected aide Dennis Lindsey if he does give into the lobbying.
You’ll recall that the steady stream of Popovich/Buford protégés to land GM jobs in recent years -- which includes Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, former Suns president Steve Kerr, ex-Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, Demps and the Suns’ freshly hired Lance Blanks -- began with Ferry and Blanks going to Cleveland in the summer of 2005.
2. David Griffin, Kerr’s former top aide in Phoenix, has emerged as an early favorite in Denver to serve as the team’s new GM in the wake of the twin ousters last week of Rex Chapman and Mark Warkentien.
Griffin, according to multiple sources close to the situation, has the strong support of Nuggets adviser Bret Bearup, who has long ranked as one of Denver’s lead decision-makers because of his close relationship to owner Stan Kroenke and presumed owner-in-waiting Josh Kroenke.
Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, who worked previously for the Nuggets as a scout, is also scheduled to interview with Denver this week. And Washington Wizards exec Tommy Sheppard, who likewise worked for the Nuggets for years before joining the Wiz in 2003, is another frequently mentioned candidate who is admired by Nuggets coach George Karl and other key figures in the organization.
It is not yet known, even if Griffin is the first choice, whether Denver intends to hire one or two replacements for the Chapman/Warkentien tag team. The lone certainty is that Josh Kroenke will have a far bigger say in Nuggets matters from now on, which potentially includes assuming his father’s title as Nuggets owner if Stan Kroenke, as expected, is soon approved as majority owner of the St. Louis Rams.
It has been assumed in Denver for some time that the NFL’s rules against owning a franchise in other pro sports will eventually lead to Stan passing ownership of the Nuggets down to his 30-year-old son, who currently serves as the Nuggets’ vice president of team development.