Decisions shape franchises. Decisions alter the course of the NBA landscape. But this goes beyond displaying terrible public relations abilities on ESPN. This isn't about "The Decision". This is about the decisions that truly shape the NBA. This is about NBA front offices.
Dan Gilbert screams about betrayal (well, he uses all caps about betrayal). And yet Danny Ferry "resigned" from his post as Cleveland's GM. Either Ferry was trying to save face, knowing Cleveland wouldn't give him a new contract, or Gilbert requested the resignation. Either way, I've yet to hear anyone defending the roster Ferry built in Cleveland to support LeBron. While I'll forever disagree with how LeBron handled his free agency, I don't blame him for the decision he made. Cleveland's front office repeatedly overpaid the wrong role players and brought in over-the-hill stars.
David Kahn. I considered leaving simply the words "David Kahn" without further explanation. I feel like none is needed, but I'll discuss Minnesota briefly. He bungled Rubio and Flynn, overpaid Ramon Sessions, and is currently shopping Sessions because he wants to sign Luke Ridnour. And that's just with his point guards. This year he acquired approximately 35 forwards on draft day. Kahn hired a coach who couldn't figure out how to play the franchises two best players at the same time, despite a dearth of other assets. Luckily that last problem has been solved today when Kahn traded Al Jefferson to Utah for a couple of draft picks. I could go into why this is awful, but I wouldn't say it as well as Ziller did today at Fanhouse.
The Denver Nuggets were the subject of open speculation regarding whether or not they would trade Carmelo Anthony, rather than risking losing him to free agency for nothing. The Nuggets have stated they will not trade Carmelo, but it is a legitimate risk that they will lose their young star to free agency, with both New York and New Jersey expected to make a big push. Denver can't seem to afford to bring in any help for Carmelo, but the franchise definitely can't afford to lose him for nothing.
There's speculation that Chris Paul might opt out of his contract after this season. New York is being mentioned as a possible destination, while some even mention Miami (how this would work under a lower salary cap with the new CBA is beyond me). Regardless of the destination, the idea of Paul leaving New Orleans would be terrible for the franchise.
And then there's the case of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The ownership did a bad, bad thing with the way the left Seattle, but Sam Presti and the front office have done a marvelous job managing the team. Smart draft, smart trades, and smart cap management have turned the franchise into a playoff contender, and a team with a bright future. Amidst all of this, Kevin Durant quietly signed a 5 year extension, waiving his 5th-year player option.
OKC breaks the pattern we see of small-market teams losing their stars to free agency. Mid-level free agents can easily be swayed to join a small-market club if you offer bags of money in excess of their market value. Perhaps that's the cost of being a less glamorous city. But it's not like LeBron and Bosh went to Miami because Miami offered the biggest contract. Udonis Haslem turned down the full MLE from both Denver and Dallas in order to play in Miami for far less money. These players cared most about winning.
I fear for Sacramento's future, but not as much as I once did. The model of the Kings bears similarities to that of the Thunder. The team has shed it's overpaid veterans. Dalembert may qualify, but he's an expiring contract. He either be gone next season or back with a smaller contract. Garcia is probably the worst contract on the books, but he's no K9 (woof!). Beno may not be earning his full salary, but last season proved that he's not the albatross he once was.
The Kings have young talent that can grow an develop together in Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, and Donté Greene. This is where the draft becomes so critical. By adding another potential star in DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings have created a team where Tyreke shouldn't need to carry the load every single night. He'll have help. The team can get better together. This can be the team that these guys grow up with. The team they can't imagine leaving.
Certain things need to still happen. The Kings need to continue to have good drafts, and add players through trades and free agency. The new arena deal needs to come to fruition. The local economy needs to recover so the fellas can see just how loyal Sacramento fans are. But the future should be bright.