I can almost sense what many of you are saying as you read the title.
"C'mon Dino, everyone knows that LeBron James is the Cavaliers General Manager, not David Griffin!"
I won't deny that the presence of King James affects every aspect of the Cavs franchise. Of course he does. Of course he wants say in who plays in Cleveland, who coaches here, etc. The NBA is a superstar driven league and he's the top star.
But it's not LeBron's job to navigate through the difficult waters of the league's salary cap, luxury tax, trade exceptions, etc. That's all on Griff, and he has performed brilliantly.
Let's go through some history, shall we?
Wind the clock back to the summer of 2014, Griffin had just become the permanent General Manager of the Cavaliers after taking over for Chris Grant on an interim basis.
The Wine and Gold were coming off of another losing season. They had to get Kyrie Irving to commit to a long-term deal. And yes, they had to figure out if rumblings from Miami were true...LeBron was looking to come back.
Irving agreed to stay put. LeBron said he'd return to Northeast Ohio. But he needed help this time. Kevin Love was the target.
In a massive flurry of activity in mid-July, Griffin dealt away Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev to the Nets, Alonzo Gee to the Pelicans, Carrick Felix to Utah, Scotty Hopson to the Hornets, and Tyler Zeller to Boston.
The moves created the cap space Griffin needed. That was followed by the three-team deal with the 76ers and Timberwolves to bring Love to the Cavaliers. The price was first overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, along with former first overall pick Anthony Bennett.
I argued with fans FOR MONTHS about that trade. It was one of the only things that caused me to drop callers instantly when I was co-hosting The Bruce Hooley Show on radio. Despite Wiggins' potential, getting Love was the right move then, and time has shown it to be the right move going forward.
Anyone can tell the general manger, go get Kevin Love. It's another thing entirely to do it.
Fast forward to January 23, 2017
The defending NBA Champion Cavaliers have lost to the New Orleans Pelicans and are 5-6 in the month of January.
J.R. Smith has sustained a fractured thumb and the Wine and Gold are suddenly shorthanded.
LeBron James, who has watched the rival Golden State Warriors add Kevin Durant in the offseason, is getting more and more frustrated. It boils over in the locker room in an expletive-filled postgame rant.
"We need a f---ing playmaker," James told the group of reporters. "I'm not saying you can just go find one like you can go outside and see trees. I didn't say that. I just hope that we're not satisfied as an organization," James said. "I just hope we're not satisfied."
James followed the next day with a cryptic tweet:
I not mad or upset at management cause Griff and staff have done a great job, I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat...— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 24, 2017
Griffin was forced to respond prior to the Cavs next game. And he wasn't particularly pleased about being called out by his superstar.
"The comment about the organization being complacent I think is really misguided," Griffin said that night. "Organizationally there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our goal is. We are here to win championships and there is no other solution."
On LeBron speaking out, Griffin added: "It wouldn't have been my preferred method. It certainly wasn't appropriate from a teammate perspective. But, it is what it is."
The one bright spot I took from that night was that Griffin and James seemed to have a productive conversation behind closed doors, "I think we both needed it. I’m happy it happened," said the Cavs GM.
But if you were David Griffin that night, I think you had every right to sit and say to yourself, "What else can I do for this guy? We won a title. I got you Kyle Korver for essentially the low price of Mike Dunleavy. We're just about out of assets. Our payroll is at a record $127 million and I'm asking my owner to pay $27 million in luxury taxes."
Instead, Griffin went back to work.
He found Derrick Williams off the scrap heap after he was released by the Heat. It's early, but Williams looks like a very solid reserve who can play multiple positions.
Instead of making a deal at the trade deadline, Griff waited for players to be available through contract buyouts.
Enter Deron Williams. He looks like the ideal backup to Kyrie Irving. Williams doesn't need to replicate his All-Star form from years past, he just needs to make generate some offense while Irving and/or James are on the bench.
But wait, there's more.
Andrew Bogut is also coming to town reportedly. Think of Bogut like the left-handed reliever that you add late in a baseball season, or the right handed hitter with a little power. He fits a particular role, basically rim protection and size in the paint. Against a team like the Wizards for example, you'd want Bogut to help deal with Marcin Gortat. Or Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto.
If you're scoring at home, the Cavaliers added Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and Andrew Bogut for the low, low price of Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams and a future first round draft pick.
That's why I refer to the Cavaliers GM as 'Griffin the Magician.'
Because, it's easy to ask your GM for help. It's easy to say, "We need to improve."
But someone's gotta do it.
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