When former Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving wanted out this offseason, it was unexpected. But not for his longtime general manager.
David Griffin, who was named VP of Basketball Operations for the Cavaliers in 2010 after spending 17 years with the Suns, took over as GM for Cleveland in 2014. He was instrumental in building the roster that won the first championship in franchise history before recently parting ways with the team.
Shortly after he and the Cavs couldn’t agree on a contract extension, the team also traded star point guard Kyrie Irving. But in a recent interview with our own Alex Kennedy, the former Cleveland executive spoke about how a trade was always inevitable (via The Hoops Hype Podcast):
“It was not at all surprising to me that Kyrie (Irving) was not happy with his role necessarily, or happy with the opportunity he was given to express his real desires as a player.”
Griffin elaborated that he never saw any friction between the two parties. But he recognized that being a point guard on a team with LeBron James is not easy.
Irving currently has a career-high usage rate (30.8 percent) now that he plays for the Celtics. During his first season playing with James, his usage rate was at the lowest it has ever been in his career.
He also leads the team in touches (70.9 per game) for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Griffin elaborated on why that was hard for Irving:
“When LeBron James, probably the best player of his generation and unquestionably the greatest facilitator in the NBA, is on your team you’re going to have a lower usage rate than your game really desires. It was obvious that eventually [Kyrie Irving] was going to run out of real estate with us in terms of ability to express the player he wanted to be.”
Griffin, who was candid about the relationship between Irving and James, also told Kennedy that his own departure was “mutual” and he had a lot to do with the decision.
To listen to the full podcast with Griffin and Kennedy, stream it below on Audioboom.