The San Antonio Spurs’ general manager seat will be held by a new person for the first time in 15 years as R.C. Buford steps into a new role.
The San Antonio Spurs have won five championships during R.C. Buford’s 25+ years with the organization, including four titles during his 15-year reign as general manager.
But San Antonio’s next great team will be built without Buford holding that GM title as he transitions into a new role in Spurs Sports & Entertainment.
According to The Athletic’s Jabari Young, Buford will be handing the GM keys to Brian Wright, who is expected to be promoted from his assistant general manager position.
Buford is leaving the job in good hands as Wright has grinded and worked his way up through the NBA ranks, and he’s already been very influential in some of the Spurs’ biggest moves.
Wright began his NBA career with the Magic as a summer intern while attending graduate school at the University of Central Florida. He was promoted all the way up to the director of college scouting before leaving Orlando for an assistant general manager job with the Pistons where he ran Detroit’s NBA Draft process.
After a couple of years in Detroit, Wright took the same position in San Antonio to be groomed as Buford’s eventual successor.
Wright brings a scout’s mind to the general manager position just as Buford did.
“Scouting is always about peeling back the layers,” Wright said in an interview with Spurs.com. “When you see somebody for the first time, you’ll always identify a few traits. It’s our job to go back and get through the layers, figure out who someone is as a player and as a person, then determine if they’ll fit.”
He has been known as a draft specialist throughout his career, and that is how the Spurs have always found success in building their roster.
San Antonio’s assistant general manager position has been a springboard to GM jobs in the NBA with the likes of Sean Marks, Scott Layden, Sam Presti, Dell Demps, and Dennis Lindsey all following that path, but Wright is the first one to find his GM job with the Spurs.
Buford is obviously high on Wright, or he wouldn’t have stepped aside for him to take the job.
“From a basketball perspective, we’ve been incredibly impressed by (Wright’s) leadership and his ability to communicate the scouting process.”
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In fact, Jabari Young reported that Wright has already been instrumental in San Antonio’s front office by taking calls inquiring about Kawhi Leonard last summer and evaluating various trade packages for the disgruntled superstar.
Young also credits Wright with leading the negotiations in re-signing Rudy Gay to a two-year, $32 million deal and assisting in the orchestration of the sign-and-trade that brought DeMarre Carrol to San Antonio and sent Davis Bertans to Washington while opening up the necessary cap space to sign Marcus Morris.
While Morris ended up backing out of an agreement with the Spurs, the necessary cap maneuvering by the Spurs’ front office to get the chance to sign him was very impressive.
Wright has been studying business/leadership courses at Stanford and Duke in order to prepare him to fill Buford’s massive shoes.
Jabari Young spoke to a couple of agents around the league who described Wright as “engaging, authentic, and trustworthy” and “sharp.”
San Antonio’s front office shakeup might not be over as they could look to add personnel in that department before the summer is over, according to Young.
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The sorrow in seeing Buford step down should also inspire excitement in seeing what a bright, young executive can bring to this franchise after learning from the best over the past three years.
While Gregg Popovich will still obviously have a ton of influence over basketball operations, it will be fascinating to see how the organization operates with a new face leading the front office.