Cleveland Cavaliers Off to Strong Start This Offseason

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMay 23, 2014

Even before a shocking win of the NBA draft lottery, the Cleveland Cavaliers were building a successful offseason.

Following a tumultuous regular season, the Cavs desperately needed some changes in the front office, coaching staff and roster.

Cleveland ended its year without a permanent general manager, questions surrounding the head coach and lots of decisions to make regarding the draft, free agency and its own mix of talent.

While some of these issues have already been taken care of, many more remain.

Here's how the Cavaliers are already winning the offseason and what more they need to do before beginning play this fall.


David Griffin Named General Manager

While it took a few weeks after the season ended to become official, Griffin was named the permanent GM after being slapped with the interim tag back on Feb. 6.

This is the perfect move for the Cavs, as Griffin brings a strong knowledge of the team and great people skills to the position.

Griffin joined the Cavaliers' front office in 2010 following 17 years with the Phoenix Suns and has been around for their entire rebuilding process. He's seen the good (drafting Kyrie Irving), the bad (hiring of Mike Brown) and the promise this team has shown (six-game win streak following his promotion to interim GM).

Players seem to enjoy having Griffin around, as power forward Tristan Thompson already shared his support with Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"Everyone's excited about that,'' Thompson said. "We're happy that he got the job. He's been there since we've been drafted, just glad that he was able to stay on board.''

It's worth noting that the Cavs were 16-33 when Griffin was named interim GM on Feb. 6. After the change in front-office leadership, they finished the year 17-16.

As Bob Young of azcentral points out, Griffin knows the importance of a tight-knit group and how to jump-start an offense from his Phoenix days:

One thing he learned is that the "family atmosphere" that was a trademark in Phoenix during his time with the organization is important to players and management alike. He's hoping to recreate that in Cleveland. And he hopes to find a middle ground between Cleveland's defensive tradition and his own roots based in the Suns' emphasis on floor spacing and up-tempo offense.

Griffin is a very positive, intelligent and down-to-earth personality who deserves this chance. He's also a two-time cancer survivor who had to work to pay his way through college and high school.

Griffin is the type of guy you would want to root for in any stretch of life, and hiring him was a smart move by the Cavaliers.


Firing of Mike Brown

Absolutely the right decision.

Brown was college buddies with former general manager Chris Grant, who made the terrible mistake of rehiring him in the first place.

Make all the excuses you want, but the Cavaliers should have made the playoffs in a decimated Eastern Conference this season. The fact that they didn't with a roster of Irving, Dion Waiters, Luol Deng, Anderson Varejao and Spencer Hawes is quite frankly embarrassing and a prime example of the incompetence of their now twice former head coach.

Players like Irving and Thompson, who had made large jumps in their games from years one to two, both took a step backward under Brown.

While consistency in the coaching staff is nice, the Cavs just couldn't go another season with Brown leading the way. Players seemed to tune him out all season, as they often did during his first tenure in Cleveland.

Sometimes silence speaks volumes, and the lack of public support for Brown by Cavs players is alarming. Remember the frustration that came from Irving after the firing of Byron Scott?

"I feel like a piece of me is missing now," Irving said referring to Scott back in April, 2013 (via Tom Withers of The Associated Press). "This is all new to me right now. I'm just trying to get over the loss of my basketball father."

Irving, along with the majority of the Cavaliers, have remained silent about Brown's dismissal after offering their support for Scott just a year ago.

The financial hit from the remaining three guaranteed years on Brown's contract may hurt Dan Gilbert's pockets, but the return investment on the court should be worth it.


Draft Lottery Luck

Somehow, someway the Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery despite owning just the ninth-best chance of doing so.

While some may be angry that the Cavs won yet again (their third lottery victory in four years), they certainly didn't tank to get there. If anything, their victory may help encourage anti-tanking in the future. There's something nice to be said about teams who are buyers at the deadline, stay competitive late in the season and get rewarded even if they miss out on the playoffs.

With the win, Cleveland gets its choice of Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins. Let's just say this could be a wide-open race all the way up until Adam Silver takes the stage with card in hand.

First, we heard that the Cavs had already entrenched Embiid at the top of their draft board, per

Just two days later, and Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio says that Embiid could already be out of the running for the first pick altogether based on questions surrounding the health of his back:

Whatever the case may be, we could be primed for a merry-go-round of speculation and rumors leading up to June 26.

The good news? Cleveland could choose any of the three and still come away a winner.

How often does that happen in a draft?


Keep it Rolling

Next up on the docket should be a head coach, secured sometime before the draft takes place.

Landing the No. 1 overall pick should certainly help entice candidates to interview for the position, with a well-known college coach having recently been added to the Cavs' wish list.

Billy Donovan of the Florida Gators was already contacted by Cleveland, according to

In addition to Donovan, they have tested the interest of Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, sources said. The Cavs also inquired about UConn's Kevin Ollie before he signed a long-term extension to stay with the Huskies.

Kyrie Irving can also sign a maximum contract extension this July, ensuring his future in Cleveland until at least 2020.

Depending on who they draft, re-signing Spencer Hawes would also be wise. A big reason the Cavs finished the season with a 17-16 stretch was due to his unique offensive ability to shoot threes from the center position. Cleveland could also reach out to guys like Trevor Ariza, Greg Monroe or even LeBron James in free agency.

Whatever route they may end up going, it should be a very interesting offseason for the Cavs.

They've already made three major moves (addition by subtraction with Brown) and hold the first overall pick in a loaded draft class. Dan Gilbert will spend whatever money is necessary to bring in a big-name head coach, and free agents may now take a second look at Cleveland given its high draft pick and dismissal of Brown.

The regular season may have been a major disappointment, but this summer's activities should all but make up for it.




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