Ex-GM David Griffin and the Cavs parted ways this offseason, a surprising move for a franchise that built a great team and came up short against maybe the greatest team ever assembled, the Golden State Warriors, in the 2016 NBA Finals.
There’s no long-term assurance from LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving had a couple years left on his deal. All those factors made this a critical summer for the Cavs.
And they fired their GM.
Reports are that Irving and Griffin had been close. Whether it’s related to Griffin’s dismissal or not, Kyrie made it clear he wants out of Cleveland. And later that request became public knowledge. The Cavs, of course, are not beholden to his request. But Griffin, for one, said he thinks Irving will be traded.
We’ve heard Cavs owner Dan Gilbert talk publicly after the trade request. He said that “sure,” he expects Irving to report to Cavs training camp. “He’s under contract,” Gilbert said at a press conference last month.
Here’s a ranked order or the people I’d most like to hear respond to this situation publicly and honestly:
1. Kyrie Irving
2. LeBron James
3. David Griffin
Thanks to ESPN, we’ve got our third wish.
Griffin joined Amin Elhassan on The Jump podcast for ESPN and shared his view of things.
“Well, I think Kyrie is going to end up getting traded,” Griffin told Elhassan. “But I think [some of the criticism] is really unfair to Kyrie. I don’t think this is youth and ignorance. This is a guy who handled the situation exactly like he was supposed to. He went to [Cavs owner] Dan Gilbert privately and told him that he thought he would be happier somewhere else. The absolute worst thing this guy could do was pretend to be all-in and sink the ship from within.”
“Most guys don’t have the courage to do what he did. So that’s not youth and ignorance. That’s a little bit more courage than people give him credit for,” Griffin said.
The original list of Irving’s preferred destinations reported by ESPN was New York, Miami, San Antonio and Minnesota. Griffin suggested during the interview that Boston was on that list, too, as he mentioned head coach Brad Stevens as a preferred coach.
Griffin underscored the importance of two things from each of the four team’s on Irving’s list: Good coaching situations and star players to play alongside. It’s not as if Irving, in other words, wants to go to a place where he’s destined to lose just to prove that he can be the superstar, the face of his own team.
Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich. Maybe Erik Spoelstra. Would you put Tom Thibodeau on that list?
Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard. Would you put Jimmy Butler and/or Karl-Anthony Towns in that company?
Here’s one more clip from the show.
Listen to the full podcast here.