GM David Griffin turned the Cavs into a potential championship contender with his in-season moves and unwavering support of first-year coach David Blatt, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today opines. Cleveland needed those improvements to be a true contender, Zillgitt continues, and his acquisitions of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov made the desired impact. Griffin also diffused a potentially divisive issue with his public support of Blatt while the team was struggling, Zillgitt adds. Cleveland’s turnaround this season has made Griffin a prime candidate for the league’s Executive of the Year award.
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- Jason Kidd deserves Coach of the Year consideration after guiding the Bucks to the playoffs one season after they won 15 games, Matt Walks of ESPN.com writes. Kidd had to deal with the season-ending injury losses of Jabari Parker and Kendall Marshall as well as Larry Sanders‘ mental health issues that led him into retirement. Kidd also changed point guards from Brandon Knight to Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline, yet the club ranks second in defensive efficiency, Walks points out. The Bucks have a strong young core, provided they retains restricted free agent Khris Middleton, and has the draft choices to add more pieces, Walks concludes.
- Tyler Johnson‘s story offers hope for prospects with seemingly little chance to be drafted, as he went from undrafted to a prominent role in the Heat’s playoff push within a single year, as Shams Charania of RealGM examines. Johnson, who’s averaging 18.4 minutes in 30 appearances, has a non-guaranteed salary for next season that becomes 50% guaranteed if he remains under contract through August 1st.
- The Cavs assigned Joe Harris to their D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, the team announced on Monday. The guard has played in 50 games for the Cavs this season, averaging 2.7 points in 9.5 minutes per game. Harris was available to play for the Charge in their postseason game on Monday against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.