General managers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) are responsible for all basketball personnel decisions. They choose players for the team, and select members of the coaching and training staff as well. NBA general managers sometimes play a role in team business decisions, such as creating budgets and aiding in marketing efforts. An NBA general manager's role is high profile because it is his responsibility to put together a winning team, both on and off the court.
The NBA operates under a salary cap, which means that its teams must meet a certain budget, or risk paying a luxury tax, when offering contracts to players. General managers are responsible for negotiating with players and their agents to come to an agreement that benefits both parties and meets salary-cap restrictions. In some cases, they may offer nonmonetary benefits, such as nontrade clauses or a suite at the arena during games. It is up to the general manager to find a way to give contracts to all the players whom he feels will help his team win without going over the salary cap.
In some cases, there are players under contract to other teams that a general manager believes will improve his club. He must then look at his current roster and determine if there is a player that may be attractive to the other team, so a trade can be negotiated. The general manager will call his counterpart with the other club and discuss terms that are acceptable to both teams. Just as is the case with free agent contract negotiations, the general manager must make sure the new player's salary will fit under the cap.
Besides free agent signings and trades, general managers also try to improve their teams through the draft. College, international and sometimes high school players who want to enter the league are eligible to be selected by the teams, based on the previous season's performance, with the team with the worst record picking first. The general manager must lead scouting efforts, so he is aware of the skills of each player in the draft and has a sense of which players will be available when it is his team's turn to choose. This may include attending college basketball games or watching tapes of international players.
An NBA general manager is also responsible for selecting the team's coaching staff. The most important decision is who will be the team's head coach, but he must also hire as many as five assistant coaches and a training staff as well. In some cases, the general manager may double as the head coach and assume those responsibilities.
General managers in the NBA may also play a role in marketing efforts for their teams. They may help with game promotions and make public appearances to support the team. General managers also deal with the media on a regular basis, giving radio, print and television interviews. They stay in contact with NBA officials as well and disclose roster moves and injury news. In addition, NBA general managers must perform regular managerial duties, such as supervising their administrative staff, creating budgets and making IT decisions.
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