After receiving zero votes in the Coach of the Year balloting, Stan Van Gundy found his name in the Executive of the Year results, and it was still underwhelming.
Eighth. One mere number ahead of The Processor Sam Hinkie.
In two short years, SVG has completely flipped the roster he was left with on its head and at the same time has raised his blood pressure coaching it to compete in a playoff series for the first time in seven years (now only the Timberwolves and Kings have longer playoff droughts). The 12-win improvement overall was tied for the fourth best improvement in the NBA this year, as our own Jason Brunskowski pointed out in the comments.
So what gives, man?
Voting is done by NBA general managers, which gives it a healthy dose of credibility. But general managers, being human beings, have their own set of self-interests. And it makes them anywhere from uneasy to downright resentful when coaches are empowered with ultimate front-office authority, too. [...]
Van Gundy's success threatens to accelerate the tilting of power toward coaches. Coaching salaries generally tend to be larger than those for the GM, anyway, but the gap is accelerating. Scott Brooks just signed a reported $35 million, five-year deal to coach Washington, where GM Ernie Grunfeld still holds personnel authority. It stands to reason that more owners are going to choose to listen first to the voice of the guy making the most money in shaping the roster he'll have to mold when said money reaches those levels.
So, yeah, it's fair to speculate that Van Gundy lost a few votes from general managers in traditional structures who aren't eager to call attention to the success of someone who threatens existence as they know it.
You should really read the entire article.
Whether or not there's a bias against SVG will remain to be seen. If the Pistons improve in the win column again and win a playoff series next year with a deeper bench that SVG constructed, it will be extremely hard to ignore the job he has done as President of Basketball Operations. I suspect SVG will get his due.
Coincidentally, if SVG wins the award next year, it will be exactly the same amount of time into his contract as Joe Dumars was when Dumars won it.
When Dumars was voted EOY in 2003, it was after his third full year in his role as President of Basketball Operations. The Pistons won 32 games his first year, just like SVG's first year (although then 32 wins was a temporary step back). In his second season, Dumars' Pistons improved by 18 games, won the Central and won a playoff series. He didn't win the award that year, because Rod Thorn miraculously turned the Nets from a 26-win team into a 52-win title contender seemingly overnight, but Dumars rightfully got second-most votes. Dumars would win the award the next season after picking up Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton in the offseason, helping the team to advance to the conference finals.
Oh yeah, R.C. Buford of the Spurs won it this year. Incredibly, the Spurs also improved by 12 wins this year. Because Spurs.
Here are the full results (via NBA.com):
Executive, Team, Total
R.C. Buford, San Antonio, 77
Neil Olshey, Portland, 63
Bob Myers, Golden State, 38
Masai Ujiri, Toronto, 18
Rich Cho, Charlotte, 17
Danny Ainge, Boston, 13
David Griffin, Cleveland, 10
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit, 6
Pat Riley, Miami, 6
Sam Presti, Oklahoma City, 5
Sam Hinkie, Philadelphia, 5
Wes Wilcox, Atlanta, 1
John Hammond, Milwaukee, 1
Dennis Lindsey, Utah, 1