What do NBA managers do?


Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

NBA teams are really great organizations in which the owners invest a lot of money, sometimes they aren’t run for short term profit, but for love, passion, excitement, status or the long term profit sustained on court success can bring. For the large amount of money invested, they expect to see top results. To achieve greatness, the club must be managed by a person with enviable organizational skills. This person takes on the title of General Manager, GM, and is set the task of employing a coaching staff, building a roster and managing the day to day of the team.

What do NBA managers do? After the owner of the Franchise, the most important person is the manager. This person takes on the title of General Manager, GM, and is set the task of employing a coaching staff, building a roster and managing the day to day of the team. 

The GM is the public face of the front office and presents important information regarding the functioning of the club. It is a high pressure, high reward role. In addition to the sports aspect, he must know about finance, marketing, law and many other things besides. Being an NBA GM requires a diverse and specialised skill set. 

If you are thinking of buying an NBA jersey, then check out the latest offers from the official NBA retailers below.

RetailerPromotionCodeLink to Store
Free Shipping39ShipGo to Fanatics
10% offJoin NewsletterGo to NBA Store
No PromotionsNo PromotionsGo to Nike
Free jersey to one Newsletter Subscriber each monthSign up to our NewsletterSign up to our Newsletter

Once, the Chicago Bulls 1990’s GM, Jerry Krause, spoke about the importance of the top organization of a club. He always pointed out that the titles were not won by coaches or players, but by the entire organization. Of course, he wanted to emphasize his role, which was fairly large in creating a team that would win 6 championships during the 90’s. His statements were not well received by some of the playing and coaching staff, not least Michael Jordan. However they do ring true. Yes you need great players and dedicated coaches to win a title, but without a GM worth his salt, getting them is incredibly difficult. Phil Jackson – the coach who won those Six titles in Chicago and 5 more with the Lakers, not to mention 2 titles he won in New York as a player – became the GM of the Knicks. It would be generous to say, it did not go well.

Role of general manager in the NBA

The NBA is the biggest and most successful Basketball League in the world. 30 highly elite Franchises compete for one single title each year under stringent salary cap and CBA rules. To achieve any success, or even just keep your job for more than a season, you have to be one of the best organisational managers in the world. Investments in basketball in the USA are huge, and each of the 30 clubs certainly hopes that one day they could reach the top of the strongest league in the world, that is, the championship ring. The path to that achievement is not easy at all and it implies a lot of sacrifices, and that sometimes you will be dedicated to basketball all day long. Sometimes you won’t have time for your family either, but obviously, success means certain sacrifices. If you are a fan you will mostly pay attention to the players and coaches but you need to know what is going on behind the scenes. For a club in the NBA to function in a top-notch way, you need a great general manager who will take care of what you see on the field, but many things that you will never be able to see. Every NBA team has over 100 people involved in the work of the club, all those people must be organized in the right way. That job is done by the general manager. One such person is necessary for everything to function properly in teams in which hundreds of millions of dollars are invested. Of course, the job of a general manager is not easy at all and requires a huge responsibility similar to that of a captain of a ship, but they are all people who do their job in a passionate way and simply enjoy devoting a large part of their time to basketball.

NBA GM Skills and Experience

As we have mentioned, a general manager is like a ship’s captain or like a director who manages a firm. To deal with the mentioned jobs and also to be a general manager, you must have certain abilities, qualifications, interests to manage one club in the NBA. The owners invest a lot of money in the clubs and expect you to make a result, that the money invested will return and that a certain profit will be made in the end. Sometimes they will not be interested in your personal problems, your family, etc., but will only be interested in the result. We have already mentioned that the job of a general manager is very responsible and unfortunately implies many sacrifices. To be a manager in a basketball club, it is understood that you must have top knowledge when it comes to basketball, but of course, that is not a decisive factor. You have to have a sense of business, you have to have enviable organizational skills, to be open to cooperation, to take care of the club’s image, to be ready for frequent conferences and meetings, and to finally be accountable for everything you did at the club. Sometimes things will not go in the right direction and you as the general manager must take responsibility for possible failure and misjudgments regarding coaches, players, etc. The general manager must know how the rules work on the basketball court, but he must also know the rules related to events off the court. The pressure under which one works is huge but it is an integral part of the sport. If you are not ready to face the pressure then you are not for the position of general manager and it is unthinkable to play top sports if you can not cope with the pressure of the owners, fans, media, and often relationships with players, coaches and other people employed at the club. they can be uncomfortable.

NBA GM Sports Background and Education

To be a general manager, it is clear that you must have a certain sports background, that is, that you have been involved in the NBA in some way in the past. This does not mean that you had to be a top player or coach, but that you had the experience of living in the NBA, which allowed you to gain certain contacts and simply notice how the league itself works. You cannot be a general manager without being familiar with the qualities of players, coaches from other clubs. Tomorrow, when you bring players to the club, you have to report to the public why you brought a player or coach to the club. The general manager takes care of the club’s image and he must have great relationships with all the people involved in the process of functioning of the strongest league in the world. Of course, if you were a player and coach in the NBA, you have a certain reputation that will help you tomorrow if you become a general manager at a club, but of course, that is not enough. Just because you may have been a great player or coach may not always impress the people around you. Sport is simply such that it involves proving day by day. Being a great player or coach does not mean that you will be a great general manager at the moment. For that, you have to have a lot of abilities to bring one club to the championship ring, which is of course the goal of every club in the NBA. It is assumed that you will be a very flexible person who will be there to meet the needs of all people involved in the work of the club and at the same time build a certain authority with them and be respected. You actually manage one company and it is not bad to know sports management for such a job. General managers generally graduate from certain faculties that deal with the mentioned management to supplement their knowledge with the necessary skills to manage a top club. If you have an enviable sports background and at the same time quite correct education in terms of managerial skills, knowledge of the law, etc., which does not necessarily mean that you have to finish college, you will have solid prerequisites to become an excellent general manager in the NBA.

Responsibilities of an NBA GM

As we have already said, a general manager is a person who has a great responsibility in the business of one team in the NBA. His responsibility is in fact the greatest after the owner of the club. He is the person who takes care of most things when it comes to the functioning of the club. The general manager deals with things on the field, hires and fires coaches and players, and at the same time deals with all the financial and organizational aspects of the club. We could freely call him a kind of businessman who must have all the skills that an entrepreneur should have because clubs from the NBA are top organizations in which a lot of people work and a huge amount of money is involved. At the end of each season, the general manager must pay the bills for everything he did. He must be ready for public criticism. Most managers are former players and coaches and they have coped with a lot of pressure during their careers and that pressure is no less even when they come to the position of general manager. When you are a player or a coach, you still worry about things that concern only what is happening on the field, and that part of the story is just one of the aspects that a general manager must focus on. The pressure he copes with is even greater than the one he had to survive during his playing or coaching career. The job that a general manager does implies that many mistakes could be made but they are an integral part of this job. In order to succeed one day, it is very difficult to expect you to always make the right decision. What matters is that you have no fear of making a mistake because a professional sport that has actually turned into a business and fear do not go together. As in all other occupations, it is important to give your maximum. Time will tell what that will be enough for, but you must not allow anything to shake you on the way to potential success. If you are afraid to take responsibility and make key decisions the chances of becoming a top general manager are very slim.

NBA GMs and profit

We have already mentioned that a general manager is mostly a person who has an enviable sports background but at the same time a person who has enviable entrepreneurial abilities. The general manager has to think about which players and coaches will come to the club, but the arrival of a certain coach or player does not only mean that they bring certain qualities on the field but also off it. Let’s just go back in time and remember how much Michael Jordan brought to the Chicago Bulls who became champion teams with his arrival. At the same time, great games in the Bulls jersey brought Jordan a huge financial age and lucrative sponsors, and he raised the image of the club with his fantastic games and brought him an enormous profit. It is not only important that the player knows how to score a basket or to assist well, but also many things that are important regarding the financial aspect of the club’s business. The general manager is certainly someone who takes care of the players’ contracts, but also someone who thinks not only about how to spend the money but also how to bring the club an enviable amount of money in the future. He is asked to win the team at any cost, because that is what brings profit, and if he makes a profit in today’s sport, then dealing with it is completely meaningless. The general manager, therefore, has moral as well as financial responsibility. He is the second most important person in the club. Sometimes the general manager will have to make unpopular moves that the fans will not like, but the normal functioning of the club must never be endangered. Each club has a certain budget and must act following the financial resources it has. It is also something that the general manager has to deal with because he sometimes has limited resources from which he is expected to make a top result and yet that is sometimes not possible. On the other hand, making a top result with funds that may not be at the level of some other clubs is something that distinguishes a great general manager. He must always be in the right place at the right time. He can sometimes bring a much bigger profit to the club if he recognizes a player who is a great talent and does not cost much. The general manager is a person who must have in his head a long-term strategy for the functioning of the club, and which must mean that the club functions great both on and off the field, that is, to be satisfied in the right way and sports and financial aspects. These are the key things that the general manager takes care of, which in turn are blurred into a lot of small details, so being a general manager is not an easy job.

How do NBA GMs manage Rosters and Coaching staff?

It is clear that one of the key things that the general manager cares about, and as we have already mentioned, is that he cares about the composition of the team in which he is the general manager. The general manager is the main person who deals with the creation of the champion team in the NBA. He is the person who brings in the players, who also fires them, who brings in the coaches and fires them. He must recognize a quality player who will contribute to the transformation of a team from one average team into a champion team. The general manager is the one who should try to find a winning combination that will bring benefit to the club in all fields. The budget is limited and you have a huge competition when bringing in, but you are the person who has to convince a certain player that your club is the right option for you. You can’t make a team that will only be made up of superstars but you have to make a team that will be a great blend of talented players and experienced basketball players. It’s a winning combination. Each player must have his role in the team. We must not get into a situation to bring a player who would just fill in the number, but he should contribute to raising the club to a higher level with his qualities. Players come to the club in different ways, whether it is a draft, trade, or as free agents, and all this is asked by the general manager who needs to have a refined flair to bring a quality player to the team. That is why it is important that he has an enviable sports background, because it allows him to see the process of creating a team in the right way, and then to include the financial moment in all that. Of course, when it comes to bringing in players the general manager does everything in agreement with the coach. Desires are one thing and reality is quite another. The coach will sometimes have players who are to his taste and that will not coincide with the thoughts of the general manager, but it is always possible to find a compromise. The job that a general manager does is very dynamic because the competition is great and you must not let it come and take your player and that is why you have to be determined if you think you are working as a general manager. On the other hand, you have to be brave and stand behind the decisions you make. Maybe they will be greeted with ridicule on the first ball, but if they bring results, then you will be the one who will laugh in the end. Of course, you should admit a mistake if it happens, but you should never let those mistakes shake you as the general manager of a club. Bringing players, firing them, and also bringing and firing coaches is something that is a very sensitive matter, but for the success of the club, decisions must be made that will sometimes be painful for the other side, and the general manager is someone who must not bring too much emotion. performing such things.

NBA GMs – the public face of the front office

When you are the general manager of a club and when you have a huge responsibility which means that you make a lot of crucial decisions regarding the functioning of the club, it is logical to be present in public in an enviable way. When you are the manager of a club in the NBA, that means a huge number of obligations, and one of those obligations is to be constantly available to the public and the media for all the necessary information. We all know how much media attention is attracted by each arrival or departure of a player or coach, and since the general manager is the person who decides on the mentioned things, it is quite correct to be accountable for these things. Participation in press conferences is, therefore, an integral part of the job of the general manager, but these are not the only public appearances in which the general manager participates. When you are the second most important person in the NBA club, it means that you try to build the image of the club in different ways. This, of course, includes concluding sponsorship agreements, then participating in certain humanitarian events, etc. A person who agrees to be the general manager in the NBA must be aware that he will almost certainly no longer have the peace of mind he had before doing that job. When you accept a huge responsibility, then you have to be ready for blows from all sides, as well as the fact that your phone will ring all day long. General managers sometimes don’t even sleep to make a champion team, and then in the morning, they can get a lot of dirty information that was presented to destabilize the club. A general manager is a person who then has to go public and deal with all these things. He suffers tremendous public pressure as he makes key decisions regarding the creation of rosters. At no time should he allow himself to succumb to pressure and express something that would endanger his image and the club’s reputation during public appearances. Criticism is an integral part of every job and it is something that the general manager faces every day but criticism can sometimes be a good thing to improve certain things. Things will sometimes not work in the best way, but dirty laundry should not reach the public, especially if the general manager talks about it. Each NBA team must have a general manager who will adequately represent the club in public.

Louis

I fell in love with Basketball when I was about 9 years old. Since then I have played on, coached and organised many teams. I've followed the NBA ever since. With no home team I've always rooted for teams and players I like the style of. The last 2 decades that's meant Greg Popoviches Spurs for the most part. My favourite NBA podcasts are The Lowe Post, Open Floor and The Ringers "The Mismatch".

Recent Posts