CANTON, Ohio- David Griffin is out as GM of the Cavaliers. So, where do the Cleveland Cavaliers go from here?
I’ll admit, I was shocked that David Griffin was let go. Especially after every article I read, was about Dan Gilbert being so determined to get a new deal done to keep Griffin. Next thing I know, I get an alert on the phone that Cavs and GM David Griffin agree to mutually part ways. Yes, the mutual part is what caused me to look twice.
I really appreciate how well Griffin has formed this roster over the past 3 seasons. Especially with the cap space limitations. Sorry, but I still cannot accept Tristin Thompson’s mammoth $80 million contract. Heck, in some ways, I think that contract in itself, is holding Cleveland back from making a move that could really improve this team.
I’m not too sure how I feel about Griffin’s departure. On one hand, I’m disappointed that Cleveland failed to sign him to an extension. David did help mold a roster that has helped send Cleveland to three straight NBA Finals appearances. I know that there is a number of fans that takes that for grant it. That’s very unfortunate. Regardless of what conference you’re in, it’s very difficult to reach the NBA finals once, let alone three straight seasons. I give David a lot of credit for making the right moves to keep this team as a title contender.
On the other hand, regardless of who the GM is, your job instantly becomes easier when you have Lebron James on your team. I’ve always said the same thing about Phil Jackson with Jordan and Pippen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s up to the GM to put the right role players around these star players to help out the team for the long run, and, it’s also up to the coach to put those players in the right position to have success. But, when you have a special player like James, a player like that makes going out and getting guys to play maybe even better than they are normally capable of, easier. Jordan did it for years in Chicago. And, if my memory serves me correctly, Shaq did it for multiple teams.
I’m curious if Chauncey Billups will be hired, let alone be a good front office guy for Cleveland. I’ve heard he would be hired as president of basketball operations and I’ve heard he’ll be hired as the new GM. Time will tell. Billups is smart when it comes to basketball, but that doesn’t always translate from the court to the front office position. In other words, this will be interesting.
ABOUT ALL THE TRADE RUMORS-
I’ve heard about all kinds of trades. Players like Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Jimmy Butler (Don’t believe the rumor that Cavs players told Butler to stay in Chicago, no truth to that). If I was forced to pick one out of those three, I’d lean more towards Jimmy Butler. But, it’s close.
For me, I think Cleveland needs to worry more about their bench. It needs to get younger and more athletic. While it would be nice to add a quality starter, that’ll be difficult considering Cleveland has no draft picks and they would have to include Kevin Love in any trade deal for that to happen. If Cleveland can improve their bench, I think they can definitely close the gap between themselves and the Warriors. Right now, the Cavs don’t trust anyone to come in and give Irving or James a rest. Golden State on the other hand? No worries. The Warriors bench clearly out-played Cleveland’s bench by far in last year’s Finals. Two of those players weren’t old either. I believe David West was the oldest bench player, he even had some success.
The last article I wrote was about role players that Cleveland had that I felt would be gone or staying. I said that the Cavaliers should keep Derrick Williams and Edy Tavares. I hope Cleveland can figure out a way to keep Korver. I like Williams because he’s only 26, he’s athletic, a good defender and he brings energy to the floor. Edy Tavares is 25, but he’s a good defender and he gives the Cavs size in the paint that they didn’t have last year. Edy is 7’3 with an 8-foot wing span. Why not give these guys a chance?
STAYING OR GOING-
I’ve been hearing the same rumors about James as most, if not, all of you have. This is what I can tell you. Someone that I know, and follow has made it very clear. LeBron has told many people that, unless this roster looks beyond words hideous, he has no plans on leaving Cleveland for Los Angles. This person also made some good points. James has fatherhood as priority #1 in his life, yes, that includes basketball. He fully intends on being close to his kids throughout their years in school. He doesn’t want to have to fly back and forth between L.A. and Cleveland. LeBron has also told his people that, while he will miss Griffin, himself, along with all the other players know that players are the ones that play on the court. James does not have a picture-perfect relationship with Dan Gilbert, but he knows that Gilbert is very driven when it comes to chasing championships like he is. LeBron knows that Gilbert will always do just about anything in his power to win now.
I’ve also heard that some “experts” think that James just wants to get all of his off the court buddies like Chris Paul, Anthony, Wade and maybe even Bosh in L.A. to play one season with all of them. I’ve never heard of a statement that was so stupid. If James did that, he will be showing people that he’s done chasing rings. Why? Because he’s not winning a ring with that lineup. Carmelo is only going to win a title if he takes a huge drop in pay and is willing to come off the bench, unless he wants to commit to playing better defense and pass, yes, I said pass the ball. Neither of those are likely to happen in my opinion. Chris Paul is the best player out of the four and he might not even be in L.A. much longer. Chris Bosh may never be able to play basketball again due to the battle with blood clots. And Dwayne Wade looks like the Michelin man on the court with all those body sleeves. No Thanks. Just retire.
So, unless Cleveland sends Irving and Love out for draft picks, I do not see LeBron leaving after next season.
WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR CLEVELAND-
If the Cavs are serious about taking back the NBA title from the Warriors, this is what they need to do.
First, they must get better on defense. During the regular season Cleveland was around the 25th or 26th ranked team defensively. You’re not going to beat the good teams, especially on the road, when you can’t stop them. Cleveland picked up some bad defensive habits during the regular season and thankfully, Cleveland was able to just out-score the opponent. That won’t work against a team like the Spurs or Warriors. They must improve defensively.
Second, the bench needs to get younger. In the past, Cleveland would sign older “ring chaser” players. Now, from everything I’ve been reading and hearing, the Cavs plan to get younger and just let those guys learn how to win and play in tough situations. They want to sign guys who are still relatively young in age who are out to prove themselves. Players that will play their butts off for one-year in hopes of getting a big-time contract elsewhere the next season. So, it would be a player like a Derrick Williams, Shaun Livingston or even Dwight Howard, just not the actual player Dwight Howard. Gosh, that would be a disaster.
If Cleveland can do those two things and, like I said, find a way to add a solid starter without giving up Love, I don’t see why Cleveland can’t give Golden State a run for their money. I know that Durant, Currey and Thompson are all tough to guard one on one, but if Cleveland can improve defensively and get more out of their bench, I can see a better series between the two clubs, if they meet for a fourth straight season in next year’s Finals.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis