One area we explored was the precedent of promoting an Assistant General Manager to the General Manager role in the NBA — as we had a very successful transition from Assistant General Manager to General Manager at the Washington Capitals, resulting in a Stanley Cup championship. I was very sensitive to not using the NHL as a direct comparison to the NBA — and the Capitals to the Wizards. I understand the nuance differences between the NBA and NHL, as we are a unique organization in owning and operating both franchises here in Washington, DC.
The following is a partial list of Assistant General Managers that transitioned to very successful General Manager roles in basketball:
- David Griffin — Assistant GM (September 21, 2010) promoted to GM of Cleveland Cavaliers (May 12, 2014; Acted as interim GM from February 6, 2014)
- Bob Myers — Assistant GM (April 14, 2011) promoted to GM of Golden State Warriors (April 24, 2012)
- Donnie Nelson — Joined Dallas Mavericks on January 2, 1998 and was an Assistant Coach and Director of Player Personnel before being promoted to GM of Dallas Mavericks in 2002
- Mitch Kupchak — Assistant GM (transitioned into front office in 1986) promoted to GM of Los Angeles Lakers (1994)
- Jerry West — Lead Scout (1979) promoted to GM of Los Angeles Lakers (1982)
- Jerry Krause — Lead Scout at Chicago White Sox (1977) transitioned to GM of the Chicago Bulls (March 26, 1985)
R.C. Buford also joined the Spurs in 1988. He left in 1992 to join the Los Angeles Clippers but returned in 1994, became Director of Scouting in 1997 and Assistant GM in 1999 before becoming GM on July 1, 2002.
Danny Ainge, former Boston Celtics player, was hired as GM of the Celtics on May 9, 2003. Following his playing career, Ainge joined TNT as a color analyst for the 1995-96 season before returning to the Phoenix Suns as an assistant coach prior to the 1996-97 season. Just eight games into the season he was promoted to Head Coach before stepping down on December 13, 1999 and returning to TNT as an analyst.
Howie Roseman was promoted to vice president of administration in 2006 and from 2008-09 he served as Vice President of Player Personnel before being promoted to GM (2010) of the Philadelphia Eagles and won the 2018 Super Bowl Championship.
Michael Edwards initially joined Liverpool in 2011 as head of performance and analysis. In 2013, he was promoted to Director of Technical Performance, promoted to Technical Director (2015) to Sporting Director (2016) of Liverpool FC and won the 2019 Champions League.
This kind of research and info that was provided to us as we embarked on our journey was instructive; and it is evident there is more precedent of hiring from within to build a successful organization than not.