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GM Watch: Collins out, Sund leading?

Back in January, the first reports on potential new GM candidates named former Bulls/Wizards coach Doug Collins and former Sonics GM Rick Sund as the leading candidates to replace Larry Harris. Today, Mitch Lawrence at the New York Daily News reports Collins has once again spurned the Bucks' offers, while Peter Vescey at the New York Post reports that Sund has emerged as the leading candidate for the open GM job:

A Milwaukee hall monitor reveals accomplished executive Rick Sund (Dallas, Detroit, Seattle) is the leading entrant for the Bucks' GM vacancy. Tommy Sheppard (Wizards) Dennis Lindsey (Spurs) and David Griffin (Suns) also are in the mix. Doug Collins turned down the opportunity to coach and run the front office at $5M per season. He also rejected a $4M offer to do one or the other.

While Vescey's rumormill isn't the most trusted in the world,  there's been very little talk locally of the Bucks' GM search aside from Gery Woelfel's recent column that mentioned most of the same names. So it appears the Bucks are deciding between an experienced guy with a mediocre track record and Bucks ties (Sund) and a group of younger candidates who have actually been involved with good teams. Kohl and the Bucks have long shown a penchant for favoring familiar faces, and given the Bucks' preference for players who play well against the Bucks (see Villanueva, Charlie), it'd only be fitting that Kohl bring in the man who fleeced him in the Ray Allen/Gary Payton trade.

From a PR perspective, the hiring of Sund would meet plenty of skepticism. As the reported $5 million offer to Collins suggests, Kohl is willing to spend and no doubt is looking to make a big splash. But as his record indicates, Sund's tenure in Seattle was unremarkable aside from the Allen deal. His drafting was heavy on projects (Swift, Petro, Sene), but in fairness he also never had the benefit of a pick higher than 10th overall. He did find solid contributors Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour in the late lottery, and also drafted Bobby Simmons (42nd in 2001) in his first year as GM. Still, he had only two playoff teams in six seasons, and with team president Wally Walker calling most of the shots in Seattle, he probably had less power over major decisions than most GMs.

While Sund would seem extremely available, the Bucks probably don't rank among the preferred destinations even for younger candidates. The Suns' Griffin backed out on the Grizzlies' GM job last year, though Spurs' wunderkind Sam Presti did take the plunge in Seattle despite all the ownership turmoil there (replacing Sund). While Seattle will be in rebuild mode for at least another year, Presti has done well to shed contracts while stockpiling draft picks, and the Bucks would be fortunate to find a young executive with a similar sense of ingenuity. Whether the Bucks' GM job is attractive enough to lure such a candidate to Milwaukee is another question.

Lindsey (a former blogger!) is just a year removed from joining the Spurs after over a decade in Houston. A native Texan, Lindsey would likely demand a major offer to lure him north. Meanwhile, Griffin (another blogger!) has spent more than a decade in Phoenix, where we can only assume he's learned a thing or two from the Colangelos about running a basketball team. Shepard's hiring would of course be ironic given current boss Ernie Grunfeld's history in Milwaukee. No matter where Herb Kohl is leaning, the clock is ticking: the draft is less than three months away and the new GM will almost certainly need to find a new coach as well as think long and hard about what to do with Michael Redd, Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva. In the meantime, the Bucks are dragging their feet with an understaffed scouting department and providing few answers to the countless roster questions they'll take into the offseason.