The Cavaliers have officially announced the firing of GM Chris Grant. Cavs vice president of basketball operations David Griffin will replace Grant on an interim basis.
The news isn’t altogether shocking, given Cleveland’s 16-33 record and Kyrie Irving‘s reported discontent with the franchise, though the timing is a surprise, since it comes just two weeks shy of the trade deadline. A weekend report from Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News suggested the team was expected to fire Grant after the season, though it appears owner Dan Gilbert didn’t want to wait that long.
“There is no one in our entire organization who is satisfied with our performance, and to say that we are disappointed is an understatement,” Gilbert said in part, according to the team’s statement. “We all know the great potential of our young talent, seasoned veterans, as well as our recent all-star addition [Luol Deng]. We believe a change in leadership was necessary to establish the best possible culture and environment for our entire team to flourish.”
Cleveland has had numerous misfires of late, including last season’s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who’s averaging just 3.3 points and 11.9 minutes per game. Gilbert had reportedly given the team a mandate to make the playoffs before Bennett was drafted, and his poor start, reflected in the team’s record, helped push the team into acquiring Deng last month, but Cleveland has gone just 4-10 with Deng in the lineup.
Last night’s loss to the banged-up Lakers was apparently the last straw. L.A. ended the game with only five healthy players and had to exploit a little-known NBA rule to keep Robert Sacre on the floor even though he had fouled out.
Grant, who first joined the club as assistant GM in 2005, took over as GM on June 4, 2010, about a month before LeBron James decided to sign with the Heat. That forced Grant into a rebuilding period, helped along by his shrewd trade of Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for Baron Davis and an unprotected draft pick that became the No. 1 overall selection in 2011. The Cavs used it to select Irving, and while Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 overall pick this year, has begun to show signs of development, Grant has had little other success in the draft. Dion Waiters, the No. 4 overall pick in 2012, has been relegated to a sixth-man role after starting for most of his rookie season, and Bennett and Sergey Karasev, last year’s first-rounders, have yet to make meaningful contributions.
The Cavs have relied chiefly on the draft during Grant’s tenure, but the club has also endured high-profile free agent misses. Cleveland committed a combined $29.65MM in guaranteed salary to Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and the since-traded Andrew Bynum this past summer, none of whom have had the desired effect. The shortcomings of wing players Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles, Cleveland’s most expensive gets of the summer of 2012, were part of the reason the club traded for Deng.
Grant changed coaches this past offseason, parting ways with Byron Scott and moving swiftly to re-hire Mike Brown, whom the club fired in 2010, shortly before Grant became GM. Brown, in the first year of a five-year contract, has so far failed to deliver winning results.
Griffin has earned respect around the league while serving under Grant in Cleveland’s front office the past three and a half years. He was a candidate for the Clippers GM job in 2012.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to report the firing, as well as the news that Griffin was the favorite to be elevated in Grant’s place (Twitter link). Grantland’s Zach Lowe added detail about Griffin, on Twitter.