Way back in February, the future ownership of the Bobcats was on a teeter-totter with Michael Jordan and former Houston Rockets President George Postolos on opposite sides. While Postolos had more funds, MJ had a friendly relationship with Bob. As such, I didn’t even think Jordan would get the team. I figured Postolos’ advantage in funds would overcome whatever favoritism Bob Johnson had for Jordan. However it did not, as after Postolos made his final offer, Johnson gave MJ “one last shot,” which Jordan was more than eager to jump on (ESPN).
The rest was history: Jordan became the first former player to own an NBA team; he sat courtside for just about every game, including the playoffs; he led a community-centered tour throughout North Carolina, and yada yada yada.
However, seeing as how incredibly close this team was to being George Postolos’, I couldn’t help but wonder what this team and organization would look like under George Postolos.
Coaching and Other Staff
- Larry Brown would be gone – Sources had said that George Postolos was prepared to clean house if Jordan couldn’t raise the necessary capital to buy the team. Due to this, it was reported that LB was looking into finding other teams willing to offer him a job in case Larry was let go, including the Clippers (SLAM).
- Coaching staff – I’m not going to lay out my whole thoughts about Larry Brown here, but I will say it seems he’s past his prime and at times even uninterested. Had Postolos bought the team and cleaned house, we would have needed to get a new coach. The odds for getting a coach better than LB would have seemed bad but in hindsight, it might have been a better option than keeping him, based on what we’ve seen of our Bobcats so far. I would have been completely in favor of Avery Johnson. Byron Scott would probably have been next on the list, or even Tom Thibodeau. While the pool of replacements would be somewhat deep in talent at the top (those mentioned above, Jeff Van Gundy, Doug Collins) there’s a drop off and who knows who would have possibly come out of the woodwork for the head coaching spot (Paul Silas? Allan Bristow?)
- Other staff (scouts, etc.) – I would expect Postolos to get top notch talent as far as scouts and other staff members, not to mention those in the front office. It is a widely known fact that Jordan often favors his buddies when it comes to job openings (see Higgins, Rod) and while the Bobcats have proven lately to be trade aficionados, they have never been good at drafting. Seeing as how drafting well is most often a must for a franchise, I would expect Postolos to grab some excellent talent.
- Commitment to the future and not the present – Sometimes I tend to get the feeling that Jordan is in a half-assed form of a “Win Now” mode. He obviously does not want to lose money on a yearly basis like his predecessor, so he knows this team has to win to bring in revenue. This means he has to spend money to bring in some good players. But he can’t spend too much money or the team would go over the luxury tax level, requiring him to pay even more money. So he brings in some mediocre players to fill some holes in the roster while having more than a considerable amount of salary tied up in veteran contracts. However, with Postolos steering the ship, I think he would be okay with getting rid of some terrible contracts in favor of gaining cap space for the future. That would mean trading Tyson Chandler, Boris Diaw and/or maybe Stephen Jackson (maybe even Diop in conjunction with one of those players if we were lucky) to be able to rid the team of some bad contracts. I believe Postolos’ bigger bank account would allow him to be okay with losing now and being a better team in the future. In other words, it would be putting off minor success in the present for possibly even better results in the future.
- While Postolos is probably no Mark Cuban in terms of his wallet size, I think he would be more committed to building a team that would have a greater chance for success in the future resulting from a rebuilding process. As well as drafting well, this means ridding the team of bad contracts. If Postolos’ staff acts how I think they would be instructed, which is à la the late Supersonics/early Thunder, we might have seen a big trade where we dump one of our top players as well as one of our lousy contracts for young talent, a huge expiring contract and/or a good draft pick. Raymond Felton would not have been offered a new contract; Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin would have been given extensions just like they have gotten. Overall, we’d most likely be looking at an ugly-to-watch, young Carolina Panthers-esque basketball team.
The Team’s Image and Marketability
- One of the great things Jordan has done for the Bobcats is that he has made them more visible than ever. By that, I don’t mean that the team is visible on more televisions, because I don’t get them on my T.V., like many people in the Carolinas. Rather, I mean that there is a lot more national interest in the team now. After it was announced that Jordan was to become majority owner, some fantastic things happened. The team got 40 new corporate sponsors, renewed 91% of season ticket holders and sold 1,575 new season tickets (Charlotte Observer). In addition, the purchase of the team gave the Bobcats more time on national television. Jordan was giving interviews on NBA TV and TNT, not to mention on whatever Fox Sports affiliate they are shown on. No one can even act like Postolos buying the team would get anywhere near the same response. Example: name the two men that the Golden State Warriors were sold to. Unless you’re a huge NBA junkie or a Warriors fan, in all likelihood you probably didn’t know the new owners are Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. The simple fact is that unless your owner is eccentric or famous, they’re not getting a lot of attention. And when your owner is (arguably) the greatest basketball player of all time, the team is going to get more attention than ever – from fans, locals, business, sponsors, the media – you name it. Postolos just can’t get the job done in the same regard. However, as his track record shows, he is excellent at maintaining good community relations with the organization. But Jordan is no slouch in this category either, as shown by his 2010 Summer World (read: state) Tour, where he traveled across the state, making stops at Fort Bragg and talking to schoolchildren. He also donated a cool quarter mil to help fund middle school sports. Neat.
I don’t think either owner is a bad choice and honestly, I’m not sure which I’d prefer. On the one hand, if Postolos’ organization would act how I think they would act, they could make winning a more long term plan but at the expense of the present. On the other hand, Jordan would have the team try to win now. Jordan’s method of retaining most of the current roster, which would probably have more talent than Postolos’, would build up a bigger fanbase in the present, which could make it easier on the team later on when they undoubtedly have to rebuild (I just didn’t think it would be so soon). The possible Postolos plan could alienate and exasperate fans, both ones that were so happy to get to the playoffs and fans on the fence by sending off our best players to free up our books. It’s a tough decision that I’m glad I don’t have to make.
But don’t feel bad for George Postolos. He is reportedly interested in buying the Pistons and if that doesn’t go down, he’ll still be a really, really rich man trying to buy an NBA team. So he’s got that going for him.