is the baby faced assassin
Join Date: May 2008
Location: YO MAMMA
Wojnarowski: How Cleveland lost it's way
Yep, never again! Wonder if that nerd will once again be at the draft?
In a sequestered Manhattan room on the mid-May night of the NBA draft lottery, the ping-pong balls bounced the Cleveland Cavaliers' way and inspired a high-ranking franchise executive to deliver a loud proclamation within a roomful of rivals.
"We're never coming back here again!" the Cavaliers official blurted.
"We're never coming back!"
While this hadn't been the arrogantly delusional boast of a basketball decision-maker, it did speak to an organizational arrogance that surrounded the three-plus lost years under recently deposed general manager Chris Grant.
For the second time in three seasons, Cleveland had won the lottery. Only this time, front office executives were mostly relieved that they hadn't been saddled with the No. 1 overall pick in a draft that didn't include a clear-cut No. 1 pick.
Beyond selecting Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Grant made one draft mistake after another. Eventually, he spent his final months on the job calling teams and offering those overvalued young players in preposterous deals for marquee talents. LaMarcus Aldridge. Anthony Davis. Andre Drummond. Eventually, few executives had the inclination to listen to Grant's pitches on one-sided deals.
Within months of LeBron James leaving for the Miami Heat as a free agent, there was a belief, fostered within James' inner-circle of Cleveland-based agents and marketers, that the planet's best player could be recruited back in summer of 2014. Through mismanagement and personnel miscalculations, the Cavaliers have made it increasingly improbable that James foresees the storybook ending in Cleveland.
In a lot of ways, the elevation of David Griffin to acting GM gives the Cavaliers a chance to make some deals and improve themselves. While league officials loathed dealing with Grant and his non-starter, one-sided offers, Griffin has stronger relationships, excellent player personnel and a leadership track record with the Phoenix Suns that led to him getting two offers – Memphis and Denver – to be a GM.
"[Griffin] excels at the trade deadline, so he'll have an immediate opportunity to impress [Cavs owner Dan Gilbert]," an Eastern Conference GM told Yahoo Sports.
Nevertheless, Gilbert's plan is to search the NBA landscape for Grant's replacement. Even when few else believed in Grant as GM, Gilbert had long been his most ardent supporter. In the end, it set back the franchise when it desperately needed to reconstruct credibility in the wake of James' departure.
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.
In the end, Grant wanted Valanciunas' agents to give the Cavaliers a signed buyout agreement with Lithuanian club Vilnius Perlas that guaranteed the center would join the NBA for his rookie season. His agents at Creative Artists Agency, including Leon Rose, had a reasonable counter, sources said. They wanted the ability to negotiate the buyout once Valanciunas' rookie draft salary had been slotted. And Toronto, with the fifth pick, wanted Valanciunas badly and never demanded the signed buyout as a prerequisite to draft him, sources said.
Within the Cavaliers, the belief was that Grant was searching for a way to cross Valanciunas off the list and draft a player that he believed to be a safer bet: Texas' Tristan Thompson. What's more, Rich Paul, James' childhood friend and player agent now, represented Thompson.
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.
There had been discussion on drafting Washington State's Klay Thompson with the fourth overall pick, but Grant believed he could get a deal done later in the lottery and snare him. The Cavaliers missed, Golden State selected Thompson with the 11th pick and he's become one of the best two-way shooting guards in the NBA.
Once the Cavaliers won the 2013 draft lottery again, they had come down to two players for the No. 1 overall pick: Anthony Bennett and Ben McLemore, sources said. Again, Indiana's Victor Oladipo was the safest pick, but Grant believed that Oladipo was too much like Waiters. Grant was too stubborn to acknowledge that maybe Waiters' future is as a bench scorer like Jamal Crawford, and Oladipo was the perfect two-way player to complement Irving.