GM Watch: King and Gabriel in the mix?

Gery Woelfel reports that former Sixer GM Billy King and former Magic GM John Gabriel have emerged as candidates for the Bucks' GM gig. On the radio this morning Woelfel also suggested that the GM might not even be in place when the Bucks hire a new coach, which at the very least suggests Herb Kohl is trying to bring in a bigger coaching name (speculation: Larry Brown?) while also implying that, yet again, whoever does take over as GM will hardly be steering his own ship. King was last seen getting the axe after Philly's 5-12 start to the year, and while the Sixers made the playoffs in six of his nine seasons--including a finals berth at the Bucks expense in 2001--he also earned one of the league's most dubious reputations in the process.

To his credit, King did have the good sense to cut bait on Allen Iverson while drafting Sam Dalembert, Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams, and Thad Young. So why were Philly fans ecstatic when King was sent packing? Let's let Bill Simmons--the forgotten GM candidate--explain. Channeling King at his First Annual Atrocious GM Summit, Simmons notes:

Just look at what I've done in Philly: Since we made the 2001 Finals, I gave Mutombo a $68 million extension even though he could have been, like, 48 years old for all we knew. I gave $35.5 million to Aaron McKie. I gave $29 million to Eric Snow. I gave $18 million to Greg Buckner. I gave $40 million to Kenny Thomas and $25 million to Brian Skinner. I gave $25 million to Kyle Korver and $60 million to Sam Dalembert last summer. That's $300 million of contracts to guys who were either on the decline or never that good in the first place. Plus, I traded for other bad contracts, guys like Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, Kevin Ollie, you name it. And then, last February, the pinnacle -- dumping three bad contracts for C-Webb, who everyone thought couldn't be traded because of his contract and because he ran with a limp. Now we have an aging team built around two past-their-prime stars and our cap space is killed through 2008. And we completely wasted Iverson's prime, when he was one of the best players of his generation.

In other words, King had a nasty habit of throwing huge money at role players who were never going to put the Sixers over the top. Sound familiar?  There's also the further question of how much of the Sixers' success during the Iverson era really was due to King given Larry Brown's active role in personnel decisions. Ironically, the Knicks--another team stacked with role players making obscene amounts of cash--are reportedly interested in the possibility of a King/Donnie Walsh tag team after the latter was hired a week ago. So while the Bucks could use a guy like King in their draft room, King's track record hardly suggests he has the vision to lead the Bucks out of their current mess.

Gabriel GM'ed the Magic from 1996 to 2003, and was the 1999 NBA executive of the year after dismantling a Magic squad that won 33 of 50 games before losing in the first round of the playoffs the previous year. Believing the team was already in a downward spiral, Gabriel shipped out Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, Horace Grant and Ike Austin, acquiring a slew of draft picks and future cap flexibility. It didn't hurt them much on the court either, as Doc Rivers' coach of the year performance led Orlando to a surprising 41-41 season. Gabriel then followed that summer of cutting salary by signing both Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill to free agent deals in the summer of 2000. But the new Magic dynasty never took off, as Hill's ankle problems doomed his stay in Orlando from the start. Perhaps just as importantly, Gabriel also gave away a young Ben Wallace to the Pistons in order to free up more cap room. And aside from taking Mike Miller fifth overall in the historically bad 2000 draft, Gabriel's drafting history is pretty ugly: Reece Gaines (15th in 2003), Michael Doleac (12th in 1998), Keon Clark (13th in 1998) and Curtis Borchardt (18th in 2002). He also gave up on Corey Maggette just one year after schrewdly acquiring him from Seattle in the Grant trade. At this point the hiring of Gabriel would certainly have less of a gag-factor than the installation of King, but in truth neither is worth doing backflips over.

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