Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer finished third in Executive of the Year voting for making exactly one move of note in his entire tenure running the front office:
Trading rookie Adreian Payne to the Timberwolves for a future first-round pick.
Of course, that’s not really why Budenholzer placed so high. Voters – the NBA’s executives – chose Budenholzer because they couldn’t pick Danny Ferry, who’s on a leave of absence after making a racist comment about Luol Deng.
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
Those who chose Budenholzer as a Ferry stand-in ought to be ashamed of themselves.
I get that Ferry is well-liked around the league, and maybe he should be. I’m not in favor of banishing Ferry forever because of his mistake, especially because he has seemingly made such a big effort to learn from it.
But that mistake is on his record in the last year, and it alone means he did a bad job as an executive in the last year.
An executive’s job is not just building the best team. If it were, Ferry did a fine job (though his moves were made before this season, which is another story for another day).
Ferry damaged the Haws’ relationship with their community. He advocated not hiring someone or paying him less because he’s African.
These are the marks of a terrible executive. That a third of the NBA’s voting executives – Budenholzer 10 votes (four firsts, five seconds and a third) – could look past it because the Hawks had a good record is shameful.