Cleveland Cavaliers: Chris Grant's 5 Best Moves as Cavs GM

Jerry BuloneContributor IIIDecember 7, 2012

Cleveland Cavaliers: Chris Grant's 5 Best Moves as Cavs GM

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    On June 4th, 2010, Chris Grant was named General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    It wasn't a flashy pick, or one that would headline SportsCenter, but a smart one nonetheless. Grant, whom had already been working for the Cavaliers under former GM Danny Ferry, had plenty of experience and was well respected among NBA circles. It appeared that it would be a seamless transition.

    Then just over a month later on July 8th, via a prime-time television event, Grant would learn he was losing the best player to ever play for the Cavaliers.

    This would change everything. Chris Grant had just been handed quite possibly the toughest rebuilding project in modern sports history.

    We are now in the third year of Grant's tenure, and while the team's current record may not necessarily indicate it, he has made some great decisions. He is building this team from the ground up and doing it mainly through the draft, a time-tested strategy that is necessary for the small-market team he oversees.

    Here are his five best moves in numerical order.

Honorable Mention: The Jeremy Pargo Trade

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    On July 25th, 2012, the Cavaliers traded D.J. Kennedy to Memphis for Jeremy Pargo and a second-round pick.

    When Kyrie Irving went down, Pargo stepped in and has done a pretty good job overall. During the nine-game stretch, Pargo averaged 13.1 points per game and 4.7 assists per game. His emergence will provide good depth at the point guard spot when Irving returns and perhaps make Daniel "Boobie" Gibson expendable.

    Not to mention, they acquired another draft pick to their already-impressive collection.

    Meanwhile, the player the Cavaliers gave up, D.J Kennedy (who only played two games), was subsequently cut by Memphis less than two months later. He is now right back to where he was before all of this went down—the Erie Bayhawks.

No. 5: The Ramon Sessions Investment

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    On July 26, 2010, the Cavs traded Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins and a future second-round draft pick.

    Sessions would quickly become a very valuable asset to the Cavaliers. He was quite possibly the Cavaliers' best all-around player in 2010-11. He achieved career highs in points per game and field-goal percentage.

    The next season, Kyrie Irving came to town and was given the starting point guard position. Sessions handled the demotion with great class and became one of the Cavaliers' best reserves off the bench.

    Ramon's trade value continued to rise, and eventually the Cavaliers traded him along with Christian Eyenga to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 2012 first-round draft pick and the right to switch draft positions with the Lakers in 2013. The Cavaliers did have to incur Luke Walton's salary to seal the deal.

    Overall, not a bad return on investment for two players (West and Telfair) that were clearly not in the future plans of the Cavaliers.

     

     

     

     

     

    On July 25th, 2012, the Cavaliers traded D.J. Kennedy to Memphis for Jeremy Pargo and a second-round pick.

    When Kyrie Irving went down, Pargo stepped in and has done a pretty good job overall. During the nine game stretch, Pargo averaged 13.1 points per game and 4.7 assists per game. His emergence will provide good depth at the point guard spot when Irving returns, and perhaps make Daniel "Boobie" Gibson expendable.

    Not to mention, they acquired another draft pick to their already-impressive collection. 

    Meanwhile, the player the Cavaliers gave up, D.J Kennedy (whom only played 2 games), was subsequently cut by Memphis less than two months later. He is now right back to where he was before all of this went down - the Erie Bayhawks.

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No. 4: The Signing of Alonzo Gee

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    On December 28th, 2010, the Cavaliers signed Alonzo Gee, a move that went largely unnoticed at the time. Other than brief stints with the Spurs and the Wizards, the bulk of Gee's success came in the NBA D-League where he earned Rookie of the Year in 2010.

    Still, the Cavaliers had interest in the guard out of Alabama and thought he could eventually fill a role in their rotation.

    Since the day he arrived, Gee has been one of the team's hardest workers on and off the court. He instantly caught Coach Byron Scott's eye and quickly won him over. His spot in the rotation would end up being a starter at small forward.

    While he may not be an ideal swingman in the NBA, he has more than proven his value as a hard-working, well-rounded, athletic player. Last season was his best yet, with Gee setting career highs in points, assists, steals and rebounds.

    As a result, the Cavaliers awarded him with a three-year deal and the title of Grant's best free-agent acquisition.

No. 3: Not Trading Anderson Varejao

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    Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.

    It always just seems like a matter of time each season before the Anderson Varejao trade winds start to blow, and this season is no different.

    Chris Grant has resisted the urge to trade Varejao in the past, and his patience has been rewarded. His stock has never been higher than at this moment. He is leading the entire NBA in rebounding and has career highs in points, assists, steals and free-throw percentage.

    If Varejao is dealt this year (which I hope he isn't) you can guarantee a pretty penny will be paid.

No 2: Fixing the Cavs' Salary Cap

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    Former GM Danny Ferry literally shoved "all in" during the 2009-10 season. As a result, the Cavaliers had a payroll of almost $80 million, which was well over the cap figure of $58.68 million.

    When the season ended in disappointment and Ferry resigned, there was a lot of work to be done.

    Grant has systematically rid the Cavaliers of bad contracts and has made them one of the most cap-flexible teams in the league. This year the Cavaliers have almost $10 million in cap space, and next year they will have more than double that.

    The benefits of having so much cap space goes much further than just being able to sign free agents. It allows the Cavaliers to be facilitators in multi-team trades and to take on unwanted salaries from other teams looking to avoid the luxury tax.

    Teams are often willing to deal talented young players and draft picks in order to avoid having to pay the luxury tax. And with the luxury tax penalties increasing due to the new CBA, the Cavaliers are in an even better position than in previous years.

No. 1: The Trade That Brought Them Kyrie

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    On February 24, 2011, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and an unprotected first-round pick.

    The Clippers missed the playoffs that year, making that unprotected pick a lottery selection. With only a 2.8 percent chance going in, it ended up being the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

    The Cavaliers would use the amnesty clause on Baron Davis' ridiculous contract to gain more cap flexibility, and, of course, gained the privilege to draft Kyrie Irving.

    Kyrie has, by far, been the best player in last year's draft. He won Rookie of the Year and may be the game's best young up-and-coming point guard.

    As for the Clippers, they would waive Jamario Moon during the offseason, and Mo Williams was traded.

    This will go down as one of the most lopsided trades in history.