The Cavs have fired coach Mike Brown and removed the interim tag from GM David Griffin‘s title, the team announced. Griffin appeared close to appointment as the team’s GM this weekend, just as doubts about Brown’s future lingered. It’s the second time that the Cavs have parted ways with Brown in the past four years. They hired him for a second stint last summer, but he didn’t last after compiling a 33-49 record in a season in which owner Dan Gilbert expected to make the playoffs.
“This is a very tough business. It pains all of us here that we needed to make the difficult decision of releasing Mike Brown,” Gilbert said in the team’s statement. “Mike worked hard over this last season to move our team in the right direction. Although, there was some progress from our finish over the few prior seasons, we believe we need to head in a different direction. We wish Mike and his family nothing but the best.”
Brown rejoined the Cavs last year on a five-year deal worth between $20-25MM, but it appears the team will have to shell out much of that money for a coach who won’t be on their sidelines. Gilbert was reportedly looking for feedback from the players and the front office staff on Brown as he made his decision about whether to retain the coach, and another report indicated that the players were in Brown’s corner, with Dion Waiters his loudest supporter. Brown was hired under former GM Chris Grant, whom Gilbert axed in February. Griffin has been serving in his place ever since.
The team responded well to the switch from Grant to Griffin, winning six in a row immediately after the change and going 17-16 overall. Griffin acquired Spencer Hawes at the trade deadline, and he meshed well with the team, giving it an outside shooter to balance the floor on the offensive end. Isiah Thomas and George Karl were among those who campaigned for the top front office job, and Gilbert considered other candidates, but Griffin gave the impression he’d be retained in a season-ending press conference last month.
“Our ownership group is looking forward to David Griffin leading the basketball side of our business. We interviewed several strong candidates for the GM position including Griff,” Gilbert said. “We chose David as our GM because we believe he is the best person to lead our franchise at this critical time and into the future. David brings over two decades of experience. He knows the ins and outs of this league as well as anyone and is also an outstanding talent evaluator.”
Griffin joined the Cavs as vice president of basketball operations in 2010, serving under Grant. He’d spent the previous 17 years with the Suns, rising from intern to senior vice president of basketball operations, a role in which he assisted Steve Kerr, now the primary coaching candidate for the Knicks.