It’s been a bizarre, eventful day for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The organization announced general manager David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert have mutually decided not to extend his current contract, meaning Griffin in a free agent and the Cavs have an opening in their front office.
Cavs and GM, David Griffin, have mutually decided not to extend current contract.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) June 19, 2017
Further adding to the confusion, TNT’s David Aldridge reported that Griffin was working diligently within an hour of the news breaking on a massive trade that would have brought Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler to Cleveland.
On the surface, the decision was a sudden and brutal one from Gilbert.
Griffin was denied permission by the Cavs to speak to the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks about their general manager openings during the postseason. As Nate Duncan of the Daily Dunc’d on Pod notes, Gilbert screwed over Griffin from landing one of those potential jobs.
It’s not as if Griffin will have trouble finding work. The 44-year-old had done a remarkable job upon joining the Cavs from the Phoenix Suns in 2010 (named GM in 2014). He orchestrated the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins deal, hired Tyronn Lue, and made multiple key acquisitions that led to the 2016 NBA Finals. All of that while under intense scrutiny and pressure with LeBron James returning to the fold. All things considered, Griffin seemingly had done about the best possible job he could.
Meanwhile, dysfunction behind the scenes in Cleveland continues, despite their recent championship pedigree. But, that’s natural with Gilbert, who nearly cost the team a LeBron reunion after burning nearly every bridge with him after he left for Miami.
The move isn’t a franchise-altering loss, considering LeBron will likely remain regardless of Griffin’s status, but it’s not a good look. Now, Cleveland needs to find a GM who can manage the LeBron-Gilbert waters without causing self-destruction, something Griffin mastered.
What’s next in Cleveland? Well, the Cavs already have a front office target they’re looking at. According to the always-reliable Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Gilbert is eyeing ESPN personality and former Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups for a top basketball executive position.
Sources: Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert is targeting Chauncey Billups to become Cavs' top basketball executive. Sides expected to talk soon.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
Billups doesn’t have NBA front office experience but is widely regarded around the league as a potential executive. He expressed interest in interviewing with the Denver Nuggets about a front office position back in 2016. This summer, he was set to interview with the Atlanta Hawks for the GM job before getting passed over for Warriors assistant Travis Schlenk. With that said, going to the Cavs (in theory) would be one of the most high-pressured, difficult jobs in the league.
There’s also this:
Billups on NBA Countdown: Cavs should trade Kevin Love for Melo.
— CLE Sports Nation (@NationCLE) June 20, 2017
Gilbert and the Cavs continue to be brazen and bold for no particular reason. Keeping Griffin –who’s been one of the most stable components in recent years for a historically creaky franchise — would have made too much sense. Instead, Cleveland didn’t let him go elsewhere, opted to pass on re-signing him in the process, and will likely replace him with an exec with zero tangible front office experience. Despite recent success, it’s never easy being a Cavs fan with Gilbert’s constant fumbling.
[Photo Credit: Cleveland.Com]