David Griffin Was 'Miserable' with Cavaliers, Knew He'd Leave After 2016 Title

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2019

METAIRIE, LA - MARCH 14: David Griffin, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Pelicans, talks to the media during an introductory press conference on April 17, 2019 at Ochsner Sports Performance Center in Metairie, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said he knew his time as the Cleveland Cavaliers' general manager was nearing an end as soon as the Cavs captured the 2016 NBA championship.

Griffin, who was hired by the Pelicans in April, explained his mindset ahead of his June 2017 departure from the Cleveland organization to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated.

"Everything we did was so inorganic and unsustainable and, frankly, not fun. I was miserable," he said. "Literally the moment we won the championship I knew I was gonna leave. There was no way I was gonna stay for any amount of money."

The 45-year-old Phoenix native said he became emotional after the Cavaliers won the title, not because of the achievement, but rather realizing what the pressure of building a winner did to him.

"I didn't watch the league, and I didn't love the game anymore," Griffin told Fischer. "I was so fixated on outcome that I just totally lost my joy."

He joined the media after leaving Cleveland, working for NBA TV and Sirius XM Radio.

Griffin took over the Pelicans in far from ideal conditions after superstar forward Anthony Davis had requested a trade during the 2018-19 season.

New Orleans' fortunes changed at the 2019 NBA draft lottery when it landed the No. 1 overall pick and the right to select Duke standout freshman Zion Williamson.

Along with Williamson, the Pelicans acquired Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram from the Los Angeles Lakers in the blockbuster Davis trade. They also added Derrick Favors and JJ Redick as part of a complete roster overhaul.

Although there are questions about whether the group can contend in the loaded Western Conference, Griffin told Fischer he expects the team will be a buyer ahead of the 2020 trade deadline.

"People are gonna be like, 'What the f--k are they doing?'" he said. "We're trying to win basketball games!"

Griffin also hinted at the Pelicans' play style, saying, "We'll probably play the fastest style of ball that's been played, maybe ever."

His comments make it clear the challenge of the rebuild in NOLA has helped reinvigorate his love for the game, which faded late in his Cavs tenure.