The Spurs Family Tree Part 3: Grooming GMs


In part three of “The San Antonio Spurs Family Tree” series, let’s take a look at those who were once a Spur or worked for the team in the front-office and their success, or lack thereof, after leaving San Antonio.

It’s no secret, the Spurs organization is a breeding ground for quality front-office personnel. Time after time, if there is a front-office vacancy on an NBA team, chances are someone from the Spurs will be a top candidate.

And who can blame those teams for looking at the Spurs’ talent-pool? The franchise is considered the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to finding talent late in the draft or overseas. Not to mention the quality people who make up the organization, forge a title contending team every season.

Now let’s look at four ex-members of the Spurs and how they did as General Managers after leaving San Antonio.

Steve Kerr

Kerr played for the Spurs from 1998 to 2001 and again in the 2002-2003 season. He won two NBA titles while he was in San Antonio (1999 and 2003). He retired after the 2003 season and would be best known as a dependable bench player who could make jump shots and three-pointers in critical moments. But was he a good GM?

On June 2, 2007, Kerr announced his departure from broadcasting to assume duties as the President and GM of the Suns starting in the 2007-2008’ season. Only four months into his new role as GM, he would complete a blockbuster trade that would land all-star center Shaquille O’Neal in Phoenix in the hopes of finally defeating the Spurs in the playoffs. The acquisition did not end the way Kerr imagined. O’Neal was not enough as the Suns lost to the Spurs in the first-round of 2007 NBA playoffs.

Determined to make something work, in December of 2008, Kerr made another trade for Jason Richarson and Jared Dudley. That year the Suns did not make the playoffs and Kerr traded yet again.

Although the Suns made it to the Western Conference Finals in the 2009-2010 season, and finally defeated the Spurs, Kerr stepped down as the Suns’ President and GM on June 15th, 2010.

With Kerr as the President and GM, the Suns had a regular season record of 155-91 (.630 winning percentage) and a post season record of 11-10 (.520 winning percentage).

Sam Presti

Presti held various jobs with the Spurs, including Assistant General Manager for two years. He was actively involved in everything the Spurs did in the years he was with the organization when it came to player movement. He was credited for convincing the Spurs to draft Tony Parker and that was just the one of his many brilliant moves. Well maybe not drafting Ian Mahinmi.

On June 7, 2007 the Seattle Supersonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder) hired him as their GM and he wasted no time getting to work.

His first move was drafting University of Texas standout, Kevin Durant and then trading Ray Allen in exchange for Jeff Green. Durant and Green would go on to make the All-Rookie team that season.

Presti’s continuous impressive moves with the Thunder has caught the attention of the rest of the NBA and the Thunders’ future is looking pretty bright. Just this past NBA Draft, he was able to bolster the Thunder’s frontcourt by trading for Cole Aldrich from the New Orleans Hornets for basically peanuts.

The team is on the verge of becoming an NBA elite team and Presti deserves every bit of credit.

Kevin Pritchard

Pritchard started out as the Spurs’ scout but would eventually move on to the Portland Trail Blazers where he was hired to be the Director of Player Personnel.

In 2006 he was promoted to Assistant General Manager and made many notable moves for the Trail Blazers that year. He is responsible for bringing in key contributors like Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge just to name a couple of players.

Just one year later Pritchard would earn yet another promotion — General Manager.

In 2007 with the first overall pick, he selected Greg Oden, a move that has not worked out and left some to speculate could have been the reason he was let go from the team.

His release on June 24, 2010 from Portland was done in an unfavorable manner. It was during the 2010 NBA Draft that the Trail Blazers told him he would be let go after his duties were done that night during the draft. No reasons were ever given as to why Portland let him go.

With Prichard’s experience and proven track record it is just a matter of time before another team scoops him up and offers him a job.

Dell Demps

Demps played for the Spurs during the 1995-1996 season. He then joined the New York Knicks as a scout for the 2003-2004 season and was promoted to Director of Player Personnel after the 2004-2005 season before joining the Spurs in the fall of 2005.

Since 2005 until last week, Demps was the VP of Basketball Operations for the Spurs and GM for the Austin Toros, the Spurs D-League affiliate. He was responsible for developing talent in Austin such as Alonzo Gee and helped find a gem of a player late in the NBA Draft by the name of George Hill.

Demps was recently hired to become the New Orleans Hornets GM and his former boss, Spurs’ GM R.C. Buford, had this to say:

“We are all very excited for this opportunity for Dell and his family. Having worked closely with both Dell and Monty, I’m confident that they will provide great leadership to the Hornets’ franchise. Dell has been a trusted confidant and an integral part of our organization. While we will all miss him, we are thrilled for Dell and wish him success in New Orleans.”

As you can see, the Spurs have given the NBA quality coaches and front-office personnel. After winning four NBA titles and being a perennial playoff team, it’s no wonder why other teams seek out a piece of the Spurs’ winning formula.

I suppose imitation is the best form of flattery.