Has the title of NBA general manager become obsolete?
No, we’re not doubting the work, the qualifications or even the input.
But it used to be that the general manager essentially stood as the final word on all things basketball, if only because he was the one entrusted to see all, hear all, know all.
Yet in the past few weeks, it has become clear that Dell Demps hardly is the final word on all things basketball in New Orleans. Far from it.
In Los Angeles, Mitch Kupchak hardly could have viewed dumping Lamar Odom to Dallas for a piddling draft choice as a basketball move. But these days, who knows what those wacky Buss kids are up to?
In Dallas, Mark Cuban has long had final say on all matters personnel, with Donnie Nelson as much facilitator as closer.
During the free-agency free-for-all of 2010, owners had as much influence in those meetings with LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Stoudemire as their leading team executives.
And while Neil Olshey has been prudently proactive with the Clippers’ bid for Chris Paul, it still comes down to the ultimate whims of Donald T. Sterling (who once vetoed a trade with the Heat for Glen Rice because of a dream he had about Danny Manning; we kid you not).
The one thing the lockout made clear is that there largely is a new breed of owner in the NBA, an owner with more at stake than the previous generation. These are not hobbyists or investors, these are hands-on types who have their hands in just about every aspect of the operation.
At season’s end, the league again will award Executive of the Year.
We’re just not sure at that very moment that an owner won’t swoop in and go, “No, that’s mine.”
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.