Report: Spurs GM R.C. Buford to take smaller role in personnel decisions

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

The San Antonio Spurs have been a bastion of consistency over the last two decades with top-of-the-line leadership in head coach Gregg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford.

However, things will reportedly be shaken up soon with league sources telling The Athletic’s Jabari Young that Buford will hand his role over to assistant GM Brian Wright, as he moves up in Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

The Spurs’ front office has already undergone changes in recent months with Peter J. Holt taking over as chairman in March, and Young reports that more changes could be on the way.

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Buford first joined the Spurs in 1989 and has been with them since 1994. Before taking over as GM in 2002, he spent time as a Director of Scouting. Under his watch, the franchise has won five championships — four while he was GM — and he was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2014 and '16.

Notably, Buford has been able to tie the Tim Duncan era and Kawhi Leonard together seamlessly with an average of 57.5 wins per season (prorating the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign). Even when Leonard asked out for a trade, Buford was still able to replace him with another All-Star in DeMar DeRozan.

Spurs executive R.C. Buford was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2014 and 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Spurs executive R.C. Buford was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2014 and 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

While Buford's acumen will be missed, Young reports that Wright has been more involved in personnel decisions in recent years. He was primarily used in scouting after his hiring in 2016, but he was heavily involved in the Leonard trade talks.

Wright would still report to Buford, so it's not as if his accumulated knowledge will totally go to waste. However, he will have different priorities and responsibilities after reportedly taking business and leadership classes and Stanford and Duke.

Should the Spurs look to add another executive to replace Wright’s soon-to-be vacated post, they will have plenty of options off Buford’s extended tree. While several of his mentees have gone on to become general managers — including Sam Presti, Danny Ferry and Kevin Pritchard — the franchise has not shied away from big names like now-Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams.

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