The votes aren't cast, yet Boston's
But answer me this: If Ainge hadn't succeeded in landing
Which then might have turned the Executive of the Year into a trivia question: Who is
That team turns out to be 28-12 so far despite more upheaval over the last six years than the rest of the league put together. They are the New Orleans Hornets, and Bower is the general manager who deserves much credit for pulling them together.
In 2004-05, Bower was the player personnel director whose scouting laid the foundation for New Orleans to use the No. 4 pick on
Despite their back-and-forth existence between New Orleans and Oklahoma City amid the desolation of Hurricane Katrina, Bower reinvented the Hornets last season by acquiring
Peterson's individual numbers (8.8 points, 39.6 percent shooting) aren't nearly as impressive as his positive impact on the team. With Paul, Chandler and power forward
"He was a veteran who was hungry to play, with a set of skills that blended in really well with the players that we already had on the roster,'' Bower said of Peterson. "We felt that his ability to spread the floor would help Chris Paul and David West, and we liked the fact that he had some toughness and was proven.''
Bower was named GM on the eve of the 2005-06 season, inheriting a team that won 18 games the year before Katrina. He won 38 and 39 games over his first two years while applying the lessons of former GM
Bower's strengths are his humility, as proved by his scrupulously low profile, and his ability to see past the numbers in order to gauge the personality of each player and the team as a whole. He is, in the words of owner
"Bob was always in jobs that required him to be creative and to make the most out of the talent he was able to acquire,'' said Bower, who feels more comfortable talking about Bass than about himself. "I was able to see that first hand, how he could capitalize on his assets.''
Bower clearly shares Bass' innate feel for the game. Though Stojakovic has yet to regain his shooting touch since undergoing surgery in December 2006 to repair a disc fragment in his lower back, Bower notes that he still commands the respect of the defense -- which is crucial to creating space for Paul and West.
"Peja does a wonderful job as a passer, and he even puts the ball on the floor a little bit,'' Bower said. "From when he was first injured to when we got started this season, he went through a lot of months of not playing competitively, and that was the thing that slowed him down.''
Upon joining the Charlotte Hornets as an advance scout in 1995, Bower worked his way up from director of scouting, to assistant coach to
"At the time, I really wanted to go back into college coaching and was planning to do that,'' he said. "Then
"It was a hard decision. I never actually left, but I was scheduled to leave following the draft. I had always planned long term to go back to the college game. The way things have turned out, it's worked out very well.''
To say the least: Two years later, Hornets GM
Now the Hornets are facing yet another potential move. A recent amendment to their lease would enable them to leave New Orleans in 2009 if paid attendance fails to average 14,735 from December 2007 through next season. The Hornets are currently 29th in attendance with 12,216 per game this season.
But the franchise is hoping to exploit an elevated profile push when All-Star Weekend arrives in New Orleans next month, followed by a playoff run led by Paul, who is in a dead heat with
"Our players and coaches have handled everything that's been put in front of them, and nobody has made excuses for anything,'' Bower said of the franchise's long-term uncertainty. "We accept this is what our job is and we're going to make it work."
The prevailing health of the starters has blunted concerns about the Hornets' skimpy bench. While Bower continues to seek out trades to improve their depth, he also believes that backup center
"We've having a good start, but we know how long the season is and we're not sitting back at all," Bower said. "We know we need to get better in a lot of areas.''