I feel like I'm the only one that sees that we are following the ten point plan exactly as described. There's a lot of skewing the plan and cherry picking in order to justify gripes. The plan is largely chronological, so reverting back to the first bullet in the third year of the still in progress project would create the appearance of contradiction. We are currently at bullet nine so the plan should be evaluated based on looking back. I thought now would be a good time to revisit.
1. Ask yourself the big question: "Can this team--as constructed--ever win a championship?" If the answer is yes -- stay the course and try to find the right formula -- if the answer is no, then plan to rebuild. Don't fake it--really do the analytics and be brutally honest. Once you have your answer, develop the game plan to try to REALLY win a championship. Always run away from experts that say, "We are just one player away." Recognize there is no easy and fast systemic fix. It will be a bumpy ride--have confidence in the plan--"trust and verify: the progress -- but don't deviate from the plan."
This step was taken in the demolition of the Arenas era big three. It is unfair to focus on this bullet presently because this is still a work in progress. With Wall in his third year and Beal in his first, any decision to stray would be a panic move.
2. Once you make the decision to rebuild--be transparent. Articulate the plan and sell it loudly and proudly to all constituencies, the media, the organization, the fans, your partners, family and anyone who will listen. Agree to what makes for a successful rebuild--in our case it is "a great young team with upside that can make the playoffs for a decade and win a Stanley Cup or two."
They consistently articulate the process. Many take it as Ted trying to sell tickets and sweeping mistakes under the rug. But they're building a young team that is playoff caliber (only Nene and Okafor are semi-old). Wall and Beal should have us in the playoffs for the next decade.
3. Once you decide to rebuild--bring the house down to the foundation--be consistent with your plan--and with your asks--we always sought to get "a pick and a prospect" in all of our trades. We believed that volume would yield better results than precision. We decided to trade multiple stars at their prime or peak to get a large volume of young players. Young players will get better as they age, so you have built in upside. Youngsters push vets to play better to keep their jobs, and they stay healthier, and they are more fun--less jaded by pro sports.
Done to a tee. Big 3 roster is completely gone. Seven 1st round picks in three drafts.
4. Commit to building around the draft. Invest in scouting, development, and a system. Articulate that system and stay with it so that all players feel comfortable-- know the language-- know what is expected of them-- read the Oriole Way*. It worked and it is a great tutorial. Draft players that fit the system, not the best player. Draft the best player for the system. Don't deviate or get seduced by agents, media demands, or by just stats or hype. Envision how this player will slide into your system.
Again 7 picks. We've invested heavily in advanced analytical and technology. We've committed to a system of defense and running up the court. People balk at Ernie/Wittman, but we are seeing how this system plays out. Commitment isn't so fickle as fans.
5. Be patient with young players-- throw them in the pool to see if they can swim. Believe in them. Show them loyalty. Re-sign the best young players to long term high priced deals. Show the players you are very loyal to them as compared to free agents who achieved highly for another team. Teach them. Celebrate their successes. Use failures as a way to teach and improve. Coaches must be tough but kind to build confidence.
We've thrown players in the pool. Wall and Beal are swimming. Wall will be rewarded. The other kids are constantly getting the tough love to see if they will figure out how to swim.
6. Make sure the GM, coach, owner and business folks are on the EXACT same page as to deliverables, metrics of success, ultimate goal, process and measured outcomes. Always meet to discuss analytics and don't be afraid of the truth that the numbers reveal. Manage to outcomes. Manage to let the GM and coach NOT be afraid of taking risks, and make sure there are no surprises. Over communicate. Act like an ethnic family--battle around the dinner table--never in public. Be tight as a team. Protect and enhance each other. Let the right people do their jobs.
Ted has stuck by his people. Clearly Ernie is on the same page. He's met each seasons' goal. Year one, demolition. Year two, suck and add prospects. Year three, add vets and compete. People question the moving goalposts of this year, but as soon as it was known that Wall was going to be out an extended period, Ted adjusted his expectation. And we still had a year where we were fighting to be one spot out of the playoffs up until the last week of the season. That's despite our star player missing 1/3 of the year. With Wall, we performed at a payoff caliber. And clearly, Ernie and Randy have been able to make calls on personnel as they see fit without meddling from above.
7. No jerks allowed. Implement a no jerk policy. Draft and develop and keep high character people. Team chemistry is vital to success. Make sure the best and highest paid players are coachable, show respect to the system, want to be in the city, love to welcome new, young players to the team, have respect for the fan base, show joy in their occupation, get the system, believe in the coaches, have fun in practice, and want to be gym rats. Dump quickly distractions. Life is too short to drink bad wine.
Bye bye Gil, Steez, and the Three Burritos
8. Add veterans to the team via shorter term deals as free agents. Signing long-term, expensive deals for vets is very risky. We try to add vets to the mix for two year or three year deals. They fill in around our young core. They are very important for leadership, but they must complement the young core (NOT try to overtake them or be paid more than them). Identify and protect the core. Add veterans to complement them, not visa versa.
Hello Martell, Okafor, and Ariza. Wall will be become our highest paid player this summer.
9. Measure and improve. Have shared metrics--know what the progress is--and where it ranks on the timeline-- be honest in all appraisals; don't be afraid to trade young assets for other draft picks to build back end backlog-- know the aging of contracts-- protect "optionality" to make trades at deadlines or in off season; never get in cap jail. Having dry powder is very important to make needed moves.
This is where we currently stand in the timeline. Now is the optionality of trades at the deadline or offseason. Our interests in Harden, Gay, and Josh Smith shows our intentions to the rest of the league. Our assets that don't fit will likely be moved for future powder. We are not in cap jail because we have assets and very little long term commitment. We will have wiggle room under the luxury tax, we have trade exceptions, our MLE and bi-annual exceptions, or we could just let everything expire to have room for a max deal next summer.
10. Never settle--never rest--keep on improving. Around the edges to the plan, have monthly, quarterly and annual check ups. Refresh the plan when needed but for the right reasons-- "how are we doing against our metrics of success and where are we on our path to a championship." Never listen to bloggers, media, so called experts--to thine own self be true. Enjoy the ride.
We have made moves every year at both the draft and the trade deadline. Our roster has constantly been in flux and the team has been improving.