What Does Danny Ferry's Resignation Say About Cavaliers Stability?

Eric FelkeyAnalyst IJune 5, 2010

CLEVELAND - JUNE 02:  General Manager Danny Ferry of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates after the Cavs won 98-82 to win the Detroit Pistons in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on June 2, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 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.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry will not be reprising his role within the team next year, when his contract expires in June, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported this afternoon.

The decision to let Ferry go came late Wednesday night, according to sources within the team. Soon-to-be free agent LeBron James had no direct influence on the outcome, said beat writer Brian Windhorst.

According to various outlets, it was a mutual decision to part ways. And it makes sense—both Ferry and owner Dan Gilbert are incredibly steadfast and loyal in their beliefs and the way they go about business.

Back in 2005, Ferry wanted control of all personnel decisions and to be the highest ranking official within the organization..before he was even hired.

He even walked away from negotiations because the Cavs were entertaining thoughts of hiring Larry Brown as president and Ferry as the GM.

In further analysis from Windhorst, he brought this up to emphasize the point that Ferry will not accept things unless they are under his own terms. A similar situation surfaced in the past weeks, only this was one case where both camps refused to barter.

Ferry and Gilbert each believed that hiring a new coach was instrumental in enhancing the stability of the Cavaliers organization. But Ferry didn't want to begin the process until his future within the team was set.

“I thought it was critical for there to be as much clarity as possible with the basketball operations moving forward,” Ferry said.

“In hiring a coach it is important for the person to know the structure and who they’re partnering with so they can continue to build on the high level that is here now.”

And after several days of discussion, it was clear the two sides were not close to the same page and couldn't come to an agreement. It was then announced that Ferry wouldn't be back when his contract expires, but will remain with the team until the end of the month.

“An organization evolves and the way people [think] evolves,” Gilbert said. “Everybody has to be 100 percent aligned on the path forward. Danny is mature enough and I am mature enough to see that our core beliefs aren’t lined up."

Gilbert named Chris Grant as the new GM this afternoon.

Grant is known for his scouting in the draft as well as his player evaluation. According to Windhorst, Grant has had as much responsibility as any assistant GM in the league, and often contributed in contract negotiations, draft scouting, and various other responsibilities.

The news came as somewhat of a surprise to most. Ferry has been Cleveland's GM since 2005 and orchestrated the winningest five-year stretch in franchise history.

During his tenure, the team had a 272-138 record in the regular season and made the second round of the playoffs every season, including their first ever NBA Finals appearance in 2007.

Through trades, he essentially turned Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, and Sasha Pavlovic into Mo Williams, Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal, and Antawn Jamison.

Perhaps it wasn't as much "thievery" as we once thought, but still impressive nonetheless.

However, none of this matters today.

Much like Mike Brown has one of the most impressive resumes of NBA coaches without a job, Ferry has one of the most impressive resumes of a jobless GM.

Despite the loss and the chaos that has ensued since Cleveland's early departure, the front office (and the organization itself, for that matter) still remains one of the most relatively stable in the NBA, meaning it's still a lucrative opportunity for potential coaches and one free agent in particular (you know who).

With Chris Grant, Gilbert has the GM of his choice.

That's not to say that Ferry and Gilbert didn't get along, but they obviously had varying ideas regarding the direction of the franchise, how much power Ferry should have, and what the appropriate steps are in restructuring the Cavaliers.

“This is forward-looking, as a franchise we’re in a very unique and unprecedented situation. That is going to take a lot of different dynamics," Gilbert added.

Gilbert and Grant's first task will be finding the right coach for the new direction of the franchise, and of course to re-sign James.

Speaking of James...

Many will try to determine how this impacts James' decision about his future in Cleveland. And honestly, until July, it's useless and futile to speculate.

But much like LeBron wasn't involved in the firing of coach Brown, he didn't have a big role in Ferry's resignation either. He openly praised the job Ferry did as GM, and publicly backed the trades that brought Shaq and Jamison to Cleveland.

I don't believe that James' camp told the organization that LeBron would only consider re-signing if both Brown and Ferry were gone.

I do, however, believe that Gilbert wants to show LeBron he'll do whatever is necessary to make this team a winner. If the GM and owner aren't on the same page, that must be rectified.

Also, the assistant coaches and various assistants to Ferry have all been retained. So it's not like this a complete overhaul of the front office and coaching staff.

Many familiar pieces remain intact, and like James said in an interview with Larry King that aired earlier this evening, familiarity and comfort will play a big role in his crucial decision.

This could easily backfire, however. Giving so much power and doing everything possible to appease a man who has given absolutely zero commitment to the Cavs in the last four years...it's a dangerous move.

But it's one that the Cavs are going to have to live with. And if James is back next year and the Cavs re-tool their roster to improve yet again, Gilbert will look like a genius.

If he doesn't...well, let's not cross that bridge until we get there.


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