There's an old saying in business that goes something like this: if strategy is pointing you off a cliff, execution can do no more than slow your fall. Phil Jackson is arguably the greatest coach of all-time, but give him Kwame Brown in the pivot and Smush Parker at the point, and see if he wins you a ring!
Championships are won by the front office. Sure the players have to execute, the coaches have to manage, and a few balls have to bounce your way (e.g. Robert Horry's dagger in Sacramento's heart). But each year, only a few teams have the potential to win it all, and it's the front office that gives them that potential.
Danny Ainge did it for the Celtics last year. Acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team with Paul Pierce was a serious display of front office mojo. Backing it up with deals for James Posey, Sam Cassell, and PJ Brown sealed the deal.
The Lakers are tearing up the league this season. Thank you, Mitch Kupchack! By drafting and keeping Andrew Bynum, signing Derek Fisher while letting Smush Parker bolt for distant lands, and best of all, transmuting Kwame Brown into Pau Gasol, Mitch has proven to be a front office alchemist, capable of keeping the Lakers in title contention for years to come.
Two other teams deserve mention for their off-season moves. Danny Ferry of the Cleveland Cavaliers added a major piece in Mo Williams. It was a 3 team deal and he gave up next to nothing (Damon Jones & Joe Smith). With Williams posing a legit second threat on the floor, LeBron is off to an MVP start and the Cavs are set to give the Celtics a run for their money.
Daryl Morey, Houston's young, stat-minded GM, pulled the trigger on a deal for Ron Artest this summer and managed to retain Shane Battier in the process. Artest has teamed with Yao and T-Mac to form a 1-2-3 punch that's the envy of every city not named Boston or LA. When Battier returns from injury, he'll step into the rotation as 6th man. If your team is so loaded with talent that Shane Battier is your 6th man, you're going to win a lot of games. Just not enough to beat the team with Lamar Odom as 6th man!
If you're a fan, get to know your team's GM. He's the one to thank if your team is in the hunt come June!