Whether you’re a player brought over in a trade, a new owner looking to impress the fans or a general manager eager to prove your mettle, the temptation to make an early statement—to show you mean business—must be profound.
After taking over for the fired Chris Grant on Feb. 6, newly anointed Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin wasted little time letting everyone know where the basketball buck stops.
As a franchise, it is my philosophy that absolutely no one is untouchable in any area. Why would you ever do that? It doesn’t make any sense to me. That doesn’t mean anybody’s ever going to go away, either, because untouchable and tradable are different things. I don’t want to get into semantics, but untouchable is a ridiculous word.
On the one hand, Griffin is absolutely right: The NBA is, first and foremost, a business. There's no sense in sugarcoating the obvious, especially when you hold that player’s Bird rights, as the Cavs do with Irving.
On the other hand, what is Griffin thinking? Yes, it is technically true that no player is immune from a trade—technically.
But basketball is as much about the science of stats and salary caps as it is more ethereal qualities, trust and respect being foremost among them.
If your long-term goal is to keep and build around Irving—to foster the trust and respect necessary to become a championship-level franchise—hanging this kind of veiled threat over his head probably isn’t the best idea. That goes double if the player in question has already intimated, per ESPN’s Chad Ford, that he’s hoping for an eventual trade anyway.
Let’s hope Griffin’s threats don’t come back to haunt him.