Dion Waiters Takes Partial Blame in Chris Grant Being Fired as Cavs GM

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 10, 2014

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Days after the Cleveland Cavaliers fired general manager Chris Grant, Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico reports that sophomore shooting guard Dion Waiters accepted partial blame for the decision by higher-ups to move forward with a new GM:

In its past two games, Cleveland has dispatched the Washington Wizards 115-113 on the road and the Memphis Grizzlies, 91-83 at home. Those two wins came after a six-game losing streak during which the Cavs lost by an average of more than 15 points per contest.

In the two recent wins, the 22-year-old Waiters has averaged 21 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.

While he hasn’t experienced a sophomore slump per se, the youngster’s numbers haven’t exactly jumped off the page compared to those of his rookie campaign.

Dion Waiters' stats per year:
2012-13:41.2% FG31% 3P14.7 PPG2.4 RPG3.0 APG
2013-14 (through 46 games played):41.7% FG36.1% 3P14.3 PPG2.9 RPG2.6 APG
ESPN.com

Waiters is one of 10 players drafted by Grant during his tenure with the Cavaliers. He took over on June 4, 2010 after Danny Ferry’s resignation.

The former GM selected Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Justin Harper (traded to Orlando) and Milan Macvan in 2011.

In 2012, Cleveland selected Waiters fourth overall and traded its other three picks—Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder—to the Dallas Mavericks for Tyler Zeller.

INDEPENDENCE, OH - JUNE 29:  Head coach Byron Scott of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands alongside number four overall pick Dion Waiters #3 and seventeenth overall pick Tyler Zeller #40 and General Manager Chris Grant at a press conference to introduce the n
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Last summer may have been the final nail in the coffin for Grant, as he selected Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall in addition to Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix.

“As we did our evaluations throughout the entire year, we just kept coming back to his ability and his talent and how well it fit with our guys,” Grant told the Associated Press (h/t USA Today) about drafting Bennett.

Through 39 games played, the 20-year-old is averaging 3.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and shooting 29.9 percent from the field. His player efficiency rating of 3.99 ranks last among qualified NBA players.

Given the Cavaliers' persistent losing ways, Grant’s dismissal isn’t a surprise. With that said, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer feels like “something is missing” and wrote the following of the decision to fire Grant:

“I can’t ever recall a general manager being fired during a season—and the coach retained. But that seems to be the case, as (Cavs owner Dan Gilbert) indicated that he’s keeping Mike Brown—at least for now.”

It’s a fair point to wonder exactly why Grant has been made the scapegoat for all of the team’s shortcomings. Coach Brown is the guy working closest with the players after all.

But while Brown’s job appears to be safe for the time being, one can’t help but wonder what Waiters’ future will be.

According to Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, the young shooting guard reportedly wanted out of Cleveland in December. ESPN.com noted that Waiters has since denied requesting a trade.

Oct 17, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) talks with guard Dion Waiters (3) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of whether the Syracuse product wants to remain in Cleveland or not, he hasn’t jelled well with the team’s All-Star point guard.

Waiters and Irving are both ball-dominant guards who need the rock in their hands to create offense and score. The experiment thus far has felt like the dueling-banjos tandem the Milwaukee Bucks used last season with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis—only with less scoring output.

Pluto believes the next domino to fall should be Brown, but a roster shakeup may be on the horizon if the Cavs’ coach retains his job.

Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reported in early February that new addition Luol Deng described Cleveland’s culture by telling a close friend, “It’s a mess.”

Needless to say, the Cavaliers need a complete overhaul. Grant may simply be the first victim in that equation.