Well, it's after the season for the Celtics so let's see who improved their rankings after the season.
To start off, the same crew that was incomplete in the beginning of the season are still considered incomplete. I want to give them at least one more offseason before I toss them in the mix. So there will be no Jeff Bower (Hornets), Mark Warkentien (Nuggets), Otis Smith (Magic), Steve Patterson (Blazers), Chris Mullin (Warriors), Danny Ferry (Cavs), and Mike D'Antoni.
The top two remains the same. RC Buford has helped the Spurs maintain their stature as a perennial contender and Bryan Colangelo went from building a solid Suns team to revamping the Raptors into the Atlantic Division champions. It should be interesting to see if Colangelo can get past the hurdle his Suns teams kept tripping over and make it to the Finals.
As for the second echelon, things aren't as rosy.
The Second Echelon
Randy Pfund (Heat): Randy Pfund's Heat team struggled and many people are questioning his and Pat Riley's long term thinking. Personally, I still have him at #3. Jason Williams is an expiring deal and Antone Walker has a team option in two years which means his deal is the same length (and four million cheaper) than Wally's. Shaq may be up there but I'm sure the Heat, if need be, could always find someone who'd be willing to take on the big fella. In two years, Shaq will be an expiring contract, Walker could be gone, and the only two contracts remaining will be Wade and Udonis Haslem. This is going to be an interesting offseason but I wouldn't count the Heat out of the Eastern Conference picture just yet.
Joe Dumars (Pistons): I'm going to move Joe D up a notch. Yeah, the Webber signing was pretty simple but overall, Dumars has done what has been necessary to keep the Pistons at the top of the East. What to do with Chauncey Billups will be the key question for this coming offseason.
Donnie Nelson (Mavs): The Mavs flamed out but I still think Nelson is one of the best in the business. The question now is what to do to fix this franchise. Jason Terry could be on the move but Avery Johnson hasn't exactly been wowed by Devin Harris either. It would be hard to fault Nelson for standing pat this offseason but you'd think he'd want to do something to give this team a push in the right direction.
John Paxson (Bulls): J.R. Smith came back down to Earth to make Paxson's dumping of him more palatable but Ben Wallace never really did anything to make his contract seem reasonable. When you spend a max contract on a post player and you head into the off-season with your biggest need being a post player then something didn't work out as planned.
Kevin O'Connor (Jazz): I almost moved O'Connor up but I think he has to figure out what to do with AK-47 before that happens. While the Jazz have been impressive, they need to make another move to make the step from nice run in the playoffs to perennial threat to get to the Finals.
Two GM's have been demoted from the second echelon to purgatory and they are Larry Harris and Geoff Petrie.
Larry Harris (Bucks): Yes, injuries hurt but this team is kind of a mess. The Bucks went from having two good young point guards in TJ Ford and Mo Williams to now having none. Ford was dealt for the disappointing Charlie Villenueva (whose lack of defense makes him a bad pairing alongside Andrew Bogut) while Williams is a free agent. The Ruben Patterson addition panned out but he too is a free agent. The Bucks have a lot of cap space, which is good. But they also have a lot of holes to fill, which is very, very bad.
Ernie Grunfeld (Wizards): It would have been interesting to see what a healthy Wizards team could have done in the playoffs. Grunfeld now has to figure out if he wants to stand pat or try to move Antawn Jamison's expiring contract. And there's always Brendan Haywood to deal with.
Rod Thorn (Nets): The Nets made it to the second round of the playoffs. Nonetheless, they are still a year older and a Vince Carter defection away from having to rebuild completely. How Thorn handles that will go a long way in determining his legacy as Nets GM.
Carroll Dawson (Rockets): Bonzi bailed and the Rockets lost in the first round again. Building a team that looks like a sleeper to make a run in the playoffs is OK but after awhile you'd people to stop sleeping on you (nevermind beating you in the first round).
Geoff Petrie (Kings): The John Salmons signing didn't work, the Ron Artest experiment blew up in his face, Mike Bibby is a dead man walking the ball up court, and Quincy Douby & Francisco Garcia are hardly doing much for Petrie's draft record. Making matters worse, rebuilding will be tough as Bibby's value is low, Artest's is nonexistant, Brad Miller is toast, and Kenny Thomas needs to improve to even be considered that. Kevin Martin should get ready to pad his stats on a bad team for a couple of years.
Bernie Bickerstaff (Bobcats): Bernie's in italics because he's been ousted from the job. Not that he did much to distinguish himself. Gerald Wallace, good. Gerald Wallace able to opt out and leave via free agency, bad. Matt Carroll signing, good. Adam Morrison, terrible. This team could make some noise in the off-season and still not make any noise during the regular season.
The Bottom of the Barrell
Three people were demoted to bottom of the barrell and one man made a deal that was so bad that he dropped to the second worst GM in the league.
Elgin Baylor (Clippers): Wow, you mean Tim Thomas didn't play as well as he did at the end of his contract year? Chris Kaman went from lovable lug to overpaid slug in less time than it took to cut his hair. The injury to Livingston hurt but the Mobley signing looks worse and worse and the handling of Dunleavy vs. Maggette was horrific. Maybe this is the offseason that Sofoklis Schortsanitis comes over to finally pay dividends because if he doesn't, the Clippers don't have much to show for their last few drafts. With Oden and Durant landing in the Pacific, the Clippers supposed rise to power is looking more like a passing flirtation with being a respectable NBA franchise.
Mitch Kupchack (Lakers): He's lost Kobe. That's all that really matter.
Jerry West (Grizzlies): West's run in Memphis started in the lottery and ended in the lottery. He wasn't able to deal Pau Gasol and, while West is walking away, he's leaving the Grizz with three years of Brian Cardinal staring them in the face. It was a No Go for the Logo.
Isiah Thomas (Knicks): The smartest move he made might be the move he didn't make. Not buying out Steve Francis' contract could help Isiah pull off the big trade he's been dying to make. Eddy Curry came alive and David Lee become a starting caliber PF. Good thing because Channing Frye regressed in year two. Has he done a good job? No. But he is putting himself in a position where he could turn things around in a year or two, which is what they would have asked his successor to do.
Billy King (Sixers): Not trading Andre Miller was the right move. Unfortunately, trading Andre Miller might be the only move this offseason. Is anyone all that interested in Sam Dalembert or Kyle Korver? Can King add enough before 'Dre starts to slow down? Or can he make a move now to build an even brighter future around Andre Iguodala?
Billy Knight (Hawks): That Marvin Williams pick is looking worse and worse. And while Knight lucked out in getting a #3 pick, that could turn out to be a one year reprieve as the Suns get the Hawks pick next year regardless of where it is and right now, it's looking like it'll be in the lottery. Billy's got the pieces to make some moves this offseason but what he doesn't have are the pieces to make a playoff team. If Knight doesn't clean up the mess of a roster he'd made, the Suns will be sitting pretty in '08.
Danny Ainge (Celtics): The Roy deal backfired but Big Al emerged. All of his wheeling and dealing has gotten him a couple of extra role players and a barely manageable cap situation. Ainge needs to hope that Paul Pierce's injury woes end this offseason or Danny will be back in a booth for the next playoffs.
Rick Sund (Sonics): Sund was sent packing which made sense since he drafted yet another project center, added little around his franchise player in Ray Allen, and let Rashard Lewis' situation deteriorate to a point where the Sonics might lose their second best player for nothing. Of course, this guy will probably be an assistant G.M. or mentioned for another top job in the next year or two.
To Be Fired
These final two GM's are not just pathetic but they have put themselves in such a position that they can't fix their team and are only biding their time until they get shitcanned.
Larry Bird (Pacers): Simply put, I don't care how much of a headcase Stephen Jackson was, you simply do not take back a contract as bad as Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s. Bringing over Troy Murphy's deal only makes matters worse. And no, getting Ike Diogu doesn't make it worthwhile. The Pacers were three games over .500 before the trade. They ended the season 12 games under .500. They went from a team being a couple of small moves away from being able to make a run in the playoffs to a team that will likely be forced to deal their best player and have 30 million dollars invested in Dunleavy, Murphy, and Tinsley until 2011. LB was always able to find away to, despite his bad moves, keep the team afloat. With this last deal, he not only sank the ship but sold the lifeboats as well.
Kevin McHale (Timberwolves): He's managed not only to waste Kevin Garnett's career but he also has held onto KG for long enough to probably get the least possible amount in return for him. McHale's been demoted to lead member of a group GM approach but seeing as Rob Babcock (former Raptors GM who gave away Vince Carter) is part of it, I wouldn't expect much improvement.