While the Timberwolves have looked much better since our last Executive Search feature, I think new leadership in the front office is still in the best interest of the club. I won't go into detail (see SnP's Building a Winner marathon for that discussion), but suffice to say that in order to bring the talent on this roster to the next level, someone besides the current administration will be able to evaluate the Wolves' strong collection of talent with fresh eyes.
Back to the task at hand.
Tonight's target is Cavaliers Assistant GM Chris Grant. He was hired right after Danny Ferry took the reins in July of 2005. Here's his job description straight from the Cavs:
Grant oversees the domestic and international scouting departments and assists General Manager Danny Ferry in all basketball operations of the franchise. He also spearheaded the design and construction of the new state-of-the-art Cavaliers player development center, Cleveland Clinic Courts which opened at the start of the 2007 season. The 50,000 square foot facility is one of the most technologically advanced team development centers in pro sports.
I picked Grant because his name seems to come up whenever a team is in the market for a new GM. In fact, he turned down the job in Atlanta last year, a franchise he spent 9 years with prior to his hiring in Cleveland (not exactly an endorsement of the ownership there). I would imagine that the opportunity to win a ring in Cleveland, though, was the biggest factor. That may prove to be the case if the Wolves make a move for him, but let's look at a bit of his record anyway.
Most of his time in Atlanta was spent scouting: he started as a scout in 1996, got promoted to Assistant Director of Scouting in 2000, promoted to Director of Scouting in 2002 and finally promoted to VP of Basketball Operations and Assistant GM in 2004.
Plenty of people chided Atlanta GM Billy Knight for building a team of swingmen (Boris Diaw in '03, Josh Childress and Josh Smith in '04, Marvin Williams in '05) and for passing on Deron Williams and Chris Paul for Williams. While the criticism has some merit, the Hawks scouting department hit on every one of their picks. I would imagine Grant had plenty to do with that.
The only disappointment is that Grant seems to have done a good bit of foreign scouting for the Hawks and the only one to really pan out was Diaw (no, Hanno Mottola, David Anderson, Viktor Sanikidze and Cenk Akyol haven't "panned out").
Despite all of this track record to go on and the fact that he's always near the top of hiring lists for GM positions, I haven't found a compelling reason to think Grant would be our guy. Talent evaluation is the name of the GM game, but Europe seems to be drying up as a talent pool and the Wolves already have a lot of talent. What they need is to figure out how to lock their core in and leverage the remaining assets for top tier talent.
Grant might be a good lead GM, but there's not a lot of public evidence to prove the point. And if I were in his position, leaving the Cleveland LeBron's, even for a chance to run your own team, might not be too appealing.