The Milwaukee Bucks are primed to hire former Indiana Pacers GM David Morway as their new assistant general manager, according to a report by Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times. John Hammond's search for someone to replace Jeff Weltman -- who left Milwaukee to become the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors -- didn't last long, and Zach Lowe of Grantland likes the move for the Bucks:
Solid hire if true. Really smart guy. RT @GeryWoelfel: Told by two league sources David Morway will become Bucks asst GM.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 3, 2013
So, who is David Morway? He's a longtime NBA executive who spent 13-plus seasons with the Pacers and help rebuild the team after being promoted to GM in 2008, and he had been in the running for the Kings' GM job earlier this summer. Here's how his tenure as GM unfolded in Indiana.
One of his first moves as GM was a draft day deal that sent Jermaine O'Neal and his bloated contract to the Raptors in exchange for T.J. Ford (meh) and the rights to Roy Hibbert (yay). He was also responsible for trading the draft rights to Jerryd Bayless for Brandon Rush, Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts, and for re-signing Danny Granger to a five-year, $60 million deal. Did I mention he did all of those things in his first six months on the job?
In the following year, he drafted Tyler Hansbrough (ehhhh) and signed Dahntay Jones to a four-year deal (ehhhhhhhh), but quickly made up for it with the best move of his tenure when he drafted Paul George No. 10 overall and added Lance Stephenson in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. One year later, he presided over the George Hill for Kawhi Leonard trade, and Lowe had some interesting notes on that deal in a terrific piece he did during the playoffs. The most compelling portions (for our purposes) had to do with Morway's philosophy on bigger point guards:
The Pacers had expressed interest in Hill almost from the moment San Antonio drafted him out of Indianapolis-based IUPUI in 2008, according to executives with both teams. The Pacers had nearly traded for Hill during the 2010 draft, with their no. 10 pick as bait, but backed out when their preferred draft target - Paul George - was still on the board. But a year after that near deal, Indiana thought Hill would be the perfect caretaker point guard for Frank Vogel's new inside-out offense, especially since it was confident it would sign a true starting power forward once the oncoming lockout lifted.1
[Footnote 1] Indiana also thought Hill would be a nice change of pace from the incumbent starter, Darren Collison, a shorter and quicker player with more traditional pick-and-roll skills, Morway says. They also had the sense they'd need a bigger point guard for defensive purposes in the playoffs, when teams pick away at any advantage they can find. "We knew that as we got deeper into the playoffs, it was going to be hard for Darren Collison to guard guys like Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo for 40 minutes a night," he says.
The conept that Morway and his staff felt a bigger point guard was necessary to compete at a high level in the playoffs absolutely makes my heart sing. It rings true to me, and for this reason especially I invite his input in Milwaukee's decision making process.
That doesn't mean everything is rosy on Morway's record. He lost the trust of team president Larry Bird after a series of botched efforts to acquire high-profile players prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season. I'll let Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star explain why Morway was eventually ousted in June of '12 :
It takes awhile to earn Bird's trust and once you burn that bridge he's done with people. That's the case right now with Morway.
The final straw with the Bird-Morway relationship, according to those close to the two, came during training camp when the Pacers failed to land O.J. Mayo and then lost out on free agent Jamal Crawford - option No. 2 to be the team's first shooting guard off the bench - on the same day.
The Pacers had agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent Josh McRoberts to Memphis for Mayo because the Grizzlies were trying to shed salary. Sources say it was Morway that caused the deal to "fall apart" because he pushed the Grizzlies to take swingman Brandon Rush. Morway did a lot of talking to teams and some of the negotiating. Bird would then step in and make the final decision.
Bird was seething over the blown deal, according to sources. He had lost any remaining trust in Morway after that.
Bird had tried multiple times over the years land Mayo, who he felt would be the one player on the roster that could get his own shot off the dribble.
To make matters worse, Crawford and his agent got tired of waiting on the Pacers to make a decision that they told them the same day the Mayo deal fell apart that they weren't going to sign with them.
Bird and Morway's relationship continued to go downhill as the season progressed.
Morway technically resigned after the season, but he was definitely stripped of his power by Bird. During the team's playoff series against Orlando, Bird took members of the coaching staff and front office staff out to dinner twice and didn't invite his GM. By the end he wouldn't even sit with Morway at games or allow him to sit in on exit interviews after the season, opting instead to pal around with Kevin Pritchard, who was later installed as the next general manager of the team.
Putting that drama aside, there's a lot to like about Morway. This feels like a very solid addition to the front office in Milwaukee, and hopefully he can help Hammond turn things around and rebuild a quality team. That's all we really want.