The Top Five Moments In Jeff Bower’s Career as GM

The news that Jeff Bower is done as the Hornets GM may just be exactly what somes fans have been hoping for, but that doesn’t mean that his time in New Orleans was disastrous by any means. Many basketball minds feel that he’s proven himself to be a capable GM.

More importantly though, he gave everything he had to the Hornets both as a GM and as a head coach, a position he was essentially thrust into after Byron Scott pulled up lame out of the starting gate in 2009. The results were solid, as he finished the season with a 37-44 record despite losing CP3 for 37 games.

For just one post let’s ignore the bad stuff and focus on the positives. Seriously, this isn’t a post to bash Bower. If you don’t like him that’s your right and I won’t disagree with you, but do it elsewhere. The man deserves some credit and respect for the admirable job he did in the Hornets front office.


5. Drafting Darren Collison with the 21st pick in the 2009 NBA draft.

Going into the draft the Hornets possessed only a single pick, and had just re-signed the finest point guard in all the land. Collison had just finished a solid, if unspectacular senior year at UCLA.

After the draft, Joey Whelon of Slam Online would write:

The Hornets did not choose wisely with their only first round pick of the draft, opting to go with an undersized point guard in Darren Collison when they so badly need help in the frontcourt. This pick makes little sense given that Chris Paul and Antonio Daniels are already on the roster, and yet Collison – who is really a second round talent – was the man they opted to go with at 21.

While many writers did not exactly agree with that analysis, it certainly does a good job of summarizing the downside of picking Collison. It was widely thought before the draft that DC would be a late first/early second round pick. Bower knew better and he acted on it.


4. Trading for Tyson Chandler

In the summer of 2006 Chandler was widely considered a bust in the making. He had recently signed a 63 million dollar deal, yet in his first year he averaged only 5.3 points and struggled to stay on the floor due to his propensity to foul too much.

With the Bulls recent acquisition of Ben Wallace, Chandler was expendable and  Bower capitalized, dealing P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith to the Bulls for the young 7 footer.

Tyson would go on to be the Hornet’s defensive anchor for years, including the magical run in 2007-2008. His injuries in 2008-2009 broke the hearts of Hornets fans everywhere.


3. Getting Under the Luxury Tax Line in 2009-2010 Without Dealing Talent

Jeff Bower shed $9 million in salary (a total swing of $23 million due to luxury tax implications) in a bad economy with everyone gearing up for a crazy free agency – without moving any major piece on the team other than the injured Tyson Chandler.

He had to get under the luxury tax, and he did, without cutting even one above average healthy player. He kept the entire core in tact and although the season was rather disappointing the team was competitive throughout. They likely would have still made the playoffs had Chris Paul not succumbed to injury.


2. Drafting Marcus Thornton

Not only did the Hornets pick two of the top five players in the draft, they did it with only one pick. In order to grab Marcus Thornton at #46 overall Bower had to trade two future second rounds picks of equal value. The 2 for 1 trade was looked down upon at the time as two second round picks are clearly better than one, but Bower had the last laugh as Marcus Thornton quickly developed as one of the top young guards in the league.


1. 2008 Western Conference Semi Finals

2007-2008 was the best year in Hornets history and in all likelihood saved basketball in New Orleans. After struggling to draw fans through the first half of the year despite their on-court success, Hornets basketball exploded in the second half and throughout the playoffs.

The culmination of Bower’s moves was a birth in the Western Conference semi-finals. After a devastating game 7 loss to San Antonio, New Orleans was widely regarded as a dark horse candidate in 2008-2009. Injuries to key players made reaching that goal impossible, but the fact remains that the Hornets had tasted success for the first time in New Orleans. It was something the team and fans will never forget, and will always aspire to top.

Goodbye, Jeff. It’s been one hell of a ride.

If anyone can find a video of Bower getting ejected for the first and only time as coach I would really appreciate it.

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