5-on-5: Super-sized edition

Insider's Front Office experts tackle free agency fits, inexperienced coaches

Updated: July 9, 2014, 10:12 AM ET
By NBA Front Office | ESPN Insider

Lance Stephenson, Terrel HarrisJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesOur front office experts would stay away from Lance Stephenson in free agency.

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We continue our new NBA Front Office franchise with a super-sized edition of 5-on-5.  The usual suspects, Tom Penn (general manager), George Karl (coach), Chad Ford (assistant GM), Amin Elhassan (scouting director) and Kevin Pelton (analytics director) are joined by NBA Front Office's personnel development consultant, David Thorpe. Together, they simulate a conversation that an actual front office might have. Today, the group weighs in on the best free-agent fits, lottery teams who are poised to become contenders, and whether they would ever hire an inexperienced coach. Want in on the conversation?  Use #NBAFrontOffice. 


1. With free agency upon us, which team-building model is better -- shooting for multiple stars, or taking a team-oriented approach?

[+] EnlargeDerek Fisher
AP Photo/Chris PizzelloWould the Front Office guys have trusted Derek Fisher so quickly?

Amin Elhassan: I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach to team-building, other than that you need talent that "fits." Most teams really aren't free to pursue three top-10 talents at their leisure, so they must acquire talent that brings out the best in the talent they already have.

Kevin Pelton: I don't know that either is better. As the Finals demonstrated, the best team-oriented roster can be better than one with superstar talent. It's difficult to accumulate that much talent, and much easier -- and quicker -- to build around stars.

Chad Ford: For all but a handful of teams, it's the team-building approach that the San Antonio Spurs or Indiana Pacers have taken. It's very tough for most markets to get a big three via free agency or trade and even harder to build one through the draft. If you can get one star to build around, that's the way to go.

George Karl: I think it depends what you're capable of getting. If you can put three studs on your team, it's a great model. But what happens, I think, is you sometimes spend money on players who aren't studs, who aren't superstars. I think coaches have a list of superstars -- it might be 10 to 15 people. Agents have a list that's 30 or 40 players long. I think the best thing is, you have to manage your salary cap and put a structure in place that allows you to manage your versatility and creativity. If you can go get three studs like Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, that's great. But Denver can't. They have to have another formula. They have to develop role players, build a bench. I don't think there's one way.

Tom Penn: If you're going to win a championship, you've got to get blue-chip, marquee talent first. Other than the Detroit Pistons of 2004, every team that's won the title has had a stud -- or studs -- that can take over the end of  games. In today's NBA, you must have that first. Go get the big talent and sort the rest out later. 

David Thorpe: There is but one goal for a franchise: Create a roster and style of play that give your team enough of a chance to to win 55 games or so every season. That's the end, but the means will differ among teams. No one "plan" is necessarily better, and in reality, one can lead to the other. A team can draft great talents and develop them into stars, or begin to build a quality supporting cast that eventually gets supplemented with a great player. Still, no plan is bulletproof. If your "Big 3" is made up of selfish players, there's no title coming. And if your "team approach" lacks elite talent and coaching, you're equally doomed.