David Griffin is set to become the permanent solution at general manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So, he wins. Or loses. It all depends on how you look at Cleveland's situation moving forward.
David Griffin is close to being named general manager of the Cavaliers, The Plain Dealer has learned.
Neither owner Dan Gilbert nor Griffin would comment on Saturday night, but a source said that after interviewing four or five serious candidates, the Cavs settled on Griffin, who has been the team's acting general manager since Gilbert fired Chris Grant on Feb. 6.
"Settled" isn't a word that diffuses confidence, but hey, at least the Cavs are heading in some kind of direction.
Now the real work begins.
The Cavs were supposed to contend for an Eastern Conference playoff spot this year. That didn't happen. The Andrew Bynum signing flopped, and a midseason trade for Luol Deng did little to resolve their losing ways.
When all was said and done, the Cavs finished 33-49, five games back of the eighth and final playoff spot, barreling toward their fourth straight lottery appearance.
Making a strong first-round selection will be among Griffin's most pressing responsibilities. Grant developed a habit of picking the wrong player. Since LeBron James left in July 2010, the Cavs have earned four top-four draft spots, which they have parlayed into Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett.
Of those four, only Irving can be considered a success. Thompson has been quiet, Waiters—despite closing out 2013-14 shooting 48.2 percent during the month of April—is prone to making headlines for all the wrong reasons and if his rookie year is any indication, Bennett, last year's No. 1 pick, has punched a one-way ticket to Draft Bustville.
As if draft-day pressure wasn't enough, Griffin also has free agency problems to tackle. Deng is set to hit unrestricted free agency, where he could command more than $10 million annually. The Cavs must decide if they're willing to foot that kind of bill for the two-time All-Star.
Irving is eligible for an extension as well. Although the Cavs are likely to offer their point guard a max extension, according to The Morning Journal's Bob Finnan, it's unclear whether Irving is prepared to remain in Cleveland long term.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com told Cavs the Blog's Robert Attenweiler in April that Irving has wanted out for a while:
The truth is [Kyrie’s] camp has been putting out there for years – years – that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. That they don’t want him in Cleveland. He doesn’t like Mike Brown. He didn’t like Chris Grant. He doesn’t like Dion Waiters. He’s already gotten a General Manager fired. He might get Mike Brown fired. This is the last time – once he signs he loses all of his leverage – so this is the last time he gets to enact leverage. I know he’s said all the right things so, fine, on July 1, when they offer a max contract – which they will – and I don’t even know if he’s a max player, but you have to sign him – sign a five year, no out. That’s what a max contract is. A max contract is five years, no out. If you want out or you want three years, that’s not a max contract. You want three years? Okay, we’ll give you $12 million a year. We’re not giving you the full thing.
Windhorst opened up a whole different can of worms here.
If Irving truly doesn't like Waiters, do the Cavs get rid of him?
What about head coach Mike Brown? Do they fire him?
"The fate of coach Mike Brown is still not clear," Boyer wrote.
Phew. That's enough work to make any GM sweat, lose sleep and just go plain mad.
Is Griffin up to this harrowing, bound-to-be-exhausting challenge?
Owner Dan Gilbert better hope so. He's had high expectations for the Cavs since James left.
"This coaching staff and this team can succeed,'' Gilbert said in February, per Boyer. "There is just no reason why they can’t.
Totally, Dan. Except, you know, for all the reasons and barriers we just outlined.
It's now on Griffin to ensure they become nonissues.
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