Chris Grant Rumors

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Waiters said the firing of Cavs General Manager Chris Grant the first week in February really affected him. “That’s a guy who took a chance on me, a young kid like myself coming from where I come from,” he said. “He made my dream come true. You never want to see (anybody) get fired. He’s got a family. You’ve got to feed your kids. What could we have done differently? Did it take him getting fired for us to start playing the way we did? You never know. I know I took it hard because if we’d have been taking care of business like we were supposed to the beginning of the season, he would still be here.”
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Yes, James spent the ceremony sitting on the Cavs’ bench next to the general manager who was fired a month ago, while the Cavs players sat along the baseline after leaving the locker room and watched. You can’t make this stuff up. Grant and James laughed and chatted throughout the speeches, snapping pictures of Ilgauskas and his plaque, then took more pictures as his honorary jersey was raised for the first time.
The head coach easily has a more direct impact, but the front office certainly holds a role in that culture. A couple of players have told me they appreciate David Griffin’s approach. He is direct in his communication and bluntly honest, he makes it clear to them where they stand with the team. The players I’ve talked to said they appreciate that. Griffin is different in his approach than Chris Grant, because as Griffin said at his introductory news conference, he comes from a different lifetime set of experiences. I think both guys have different styles, but both can make good GMs.
No one in the Cavs’ front office was “preening” after landing Andrew Bynum last summer, as Yahoo reported. Conversely, I spoke to a team executive during free agency last summer who was indifferent on Bynum. His attitude and knee issues were well documented and had scared off most of the league. “If he comes, great,” the executive said. “If he doesn’t, I’m already over it.” After Bynum chose the Cavs, I called a different team executive to offer congratulations. “Eh, we’ll see,” was the response. “I don’t know if we’ve won anything or not.”
Yahoo! Sports’ recent scathing article on Grant chastising him for “pitches on one-sided deals,” was perplexing since Grant successfully executed nine deals (excluding the LeBron James sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat) in 3½ years. He consummated trades with some of the most respected GMs in the league, including the Los Angeles Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak and a former Executive of the Year winner in the Chicago Bulls’ Gar Forman. (Grant negotiated swap rights into the Sessions trade with the Lakers that enabled the Cavs to move up 11 spots in last summer’s draft and land Karasev, the young shooting guard the team remains high on).
From there, Cleveland compounded mistake upon mistake. Grant passed on Connecticut center Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft, because he didn’t want to pair two such unpolished offensive players as Thompson and Drummond together, sources said. Grant had always warned player agents that the Cavaliers would never a select a player who didn’t come and work out for the franchise. Only Grant did just that when he took Syracuse guard Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. If the Cavaliers weren’t going to select Drummond, Irving badly wanted them to consider his close friend, Harrison Barnes. Cleveland passed, and Irving and Waiters have struggled to co-exist together. Before his firing, Grant had started to shop Waiters to teams around the league.
The Cavaliers could’ve had Kyrie Irving and Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas in the 2011 draft class, but Grant balked on using the fourth overall pick on the center everyone else would’ve selected there. Several reasons factored in, but there had been a strong belief within the Cavaliers personnel department that Grant hadn’t scouted Valanciunas hard enough to gain full confidence in his abilities. Cleveland’s international scouts raved about the 7-footer, and most of the Cleveland’s staff agreed with them, sources said.
He admits it’s bittersweet watching his good friend getting fired. “At the same time, I’m looking forward to tackling this opportunity,” Griffin said. “We will find a way. We will succeed.” Griffin, who spent 18 years in the Suns’ organization, learning under Steve Kerr, Bryan Colangelo and Jerry Colangelo, said he’s not from the same mold to which people have grown accustomed. “I won’t be different,” he said. “I am different.”
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With Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert having fired general manager Chris Grant on Thursday, it now appears that no front-office seat is hotter than that of Pistons President Joe Dumars. Yet the question some rival executives are asking is this: Will Dumars look to make moves with the hopes of saving his job, and does he still even have the same sort of freedom to do so considering the pressure being applied by unhappy owner Tom Gores?
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“This is really about a directional move in the franchise,” Gilbert said. “The fans deserve more.” The move came one day after a humiliating 119-108 loss to the L.A. Lakers, who were down to just five healthy players by the end of the game. The Cavaliers are in the midst of a six-game losing streak. “At this point, after the amount of time the former general manager had, we just felt it was time,” Gilbert said. “We needed a shift in certain cultural aspects and a different environment.”
Cleveland is 16-33 and losers of six straight games. They’re 5.5 games out of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Gilbert had delivered a mandate of making the playoffs for the Cavaliers this season. Grant had a reputation as a hard-working executive, but failed to construct an infrastructure of talent to return the Cavaliers to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left as a free agent in 2010. Grant had been responsible for drafting several high lottery picks that have yet to validate themselves, including No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett in the 2013 NBA draft. Grant has been waiting for several top-five draft picks, including Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, to fulfill their promise.
General Manager Chris Grant said Bennett has been working especially hard, coming in early, staying late and even working on off days. Said Bennett, “I have real high expectations for myself. The season didn’t really start out well for me, but I’ve just got to keep working. I have great teammates around me, a great coaching staff, so I’ve just got to be in the gym every day and keep working.”
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One positive Cavs on Tuesday was the performance by rookie Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick. He scored a season-high 15 points in 31 minutes. Grant has taken some heat for not sending Bennett to the D-League to work on his game, but it seems the team’s patience could be paying off. “I think the priority should be here for him working with our coaches, being on the floor getting those experiences,” Grant said. “Last night was great. He performed well and played well and you could tell he was ready for the opportunity.”
Rookie Anthony Bennett hasn’t played in four games, but Brown still sounds as if he and GM Chris Grant are leaning toward keeping Bennett instead of sending him to the D-League to get in some work. “We have talked about it, but I haven’t gone real deep on it with Chris,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of learning he can do here with the team, whether it’s home or away, whether it’s us game-planning for different teams, going to the practices throughout the course of this homestand, there are a lot of benefits he can get out of it. We’ve had discussions, but we’re not to the point where we’d send him.”
Hey, Chris and Ben: I asked Chris Grant if the Cavs would be looking to make another move this season. Here’s what he had to say: “It’s hard to predict. We’ve generally been pretty active. My preference is not to be active right now and let these guys settle in and learn [about] each other. But if a good opportunity presents itself, then sure we’ll make another deal.” I’m not sure the Pistons are ready to part with Smith and/or Monroe, and I don’t think the Magic want to lose leading scorer Afflalo.