Bill Simmons as GM?

mn_timberwolves_logoIf you are a fan of ESPN and the Sports Guy, then you’ve probably seen something lately about his interest in being the new general manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves.  This isn’t the first time that he’s asked to be considered for an open GM position (last year, he wanted an interview for the Bucks’ GM opening). 

Just to have a little fun, I’d like to take a few minutes to list some of the pros and cons of actually making Simmons the team’s GM.

Pros:

  • The Timberwolves become an instant story this year, regardless of the on-court performance.  The amount of media coverage the team would receive would be enormous, and would easily help drive ratings and ticket sales. 
  • Even without the media aspect, Simmons could be the one front-office signing that by itself could sell tickets.  How often does that happen?
  • Team have made unorthodox hiring decisions before.  We’ve seen TV announcers without playing experience become managers, so maybe this isn’t as much of a stretch as we think.
  • Surprisingly, if you read Simmons’ columns and listen to his podcasts, he does seem to have a fairly impressive depth of knowledge about the game.  This is even validated by current Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey.
  • He has offered to work for no salary, which in this economic climate, is not a bad offer.  His only requirement is permission to write a book, which I’m sure the team would be entitled to some of the revenue from.
  • If the team is open to taking a chance like this, what better time than now? The team is not poised to win right away, and their best player will probably miss the first part of the season, so they don’t have much to lose.

Cons:

  • While he likes to think he knows enough about basketball, that can easily be overconfidence, and a lack of knowledge would quickly be exposed in any decisions that he makes.  In particular, he admits that he doesn’t follow college basketball closely, making him a liability in the draft process. Also, considering he’s never worked for a team before, he’s going to need a lot of time to catch up on the basic elements of working with a franchise.
  • A hiring like this might easily create a circus atmosphere, which could ultimately end up having a negative affect on sales, driving away some of the core fan base.  It can also hurt the morale of the franchise, both on the employee side and from the players.  This type of impact could have long-term effects on the team culture.
  • Coaches and GMs need to have a very close, positive relationship. So would the coach be willing to work with Simmons?  Or from another perspectives, would other GMs not take him seriously and in turn be less willing to work with him?
  • Who would he hire as his staff?  While the GM makes the final decision, there are a lot of people who help on the basketball operations side, and most GMs hire their own staff.  He’d be very dependent on the decisions of others in building up a staff, or worst case, he’d want to hire his friends!

Could “Simmons as GM” turn into a business success, or would it disintegrate into a complete failure and make the team the laughingstock of the league.  The problem for Simmons is that this could swing to either end of the spectrum, and I don’t think any franchise would risk being on the negative end of that one.  However, I don’t think there’s any downside to at least giving him an interview.  You’d get a nice spike in media attention for the team, and they might be surprised to find out he’s more qualified than any of us realize.

So what do you think?  What other pros and cons need to be added to the list?

One thought on “Bill Simmons as GM?

  • May 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm
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    Hire the guy. He has some great ideas that the fans would love, like half price tickets when they get eliminated from contention. Plus, he’ll walk away after 3 years if the Wolves don’t make the playoffs. Why didn’t McHale do that? He is infinitely smarter than McHale, who was handed the job on a silver platter, despite not having any experience and doing one of the worst jobs in front office history.

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