Between the day that the Cavaliers beat the Warriors to win the 2016 NBA Finals and the day Kevin Durant opted to sign with Golden State, Cleveland’s then-GM David Griffin gathered his staff and instructed them to look into possible paths to landing Durant, writes ESPN’s Zach Lowe. As Lowe explains, there was a fear after the Finals that KD would head to the Dubs, and even though the Cavs recognized they had little chance of securing a meeting with him, they wanted to do all they could to explore the possibility.
“I don’t believe you can dream big enough in the NBA,” Griffin told Lowe recently, looking back on that 2016 offseason. “You have to go through the exercise.”
Of course, Durant ultimately signed with the Warriors and the Cavaliers didn’t get a meeting. That second part, at least, came as no surprise, since Cleveland was one of just three clubs during the summer of 2016 that ended up staying over the salary cap despite a huge cap spike that created room for 27 other teams. It would have been extremely difficult for the Cavs to create space to sign Durant, and a sign-and-trade with Oklahoma City would have been a long shot, even if the star forward had considered Cleveland.
It’s hard to even view the Cavs’ failed run at Durant an intriguing what-if scenario, since it never got off the ground at all. Still, it’s a reminder that even the league’s most successful teams will do their due diligence to find ways they can add another star and become even more dangerous — even if the road to an acquisition seems improbable.
Here’s more from out of Cleveland:
- While many NBA observers and fans questioned the league’s decision to suspend Marquese Chriss for a game after he defended himself from a physical attack from Serge Ibaka, Cavs head coach Larry Drew thought it was the right call, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “Punches were thrown by both guys and I thought the ruling the league made was the right decision,” Drew said.
- When the Cavaliers acquired Brandon Knight from the Rockets at last month’s trade deadline, he was viewed as the salary dump necessary for Cleveland to secure Houston’s first-round pick. Since his arrival though, Knight has been a regular part of the club’s rotation and has showed flashes of his old self, Fedor writes for Cleveland.com. “He’s the Brandon that I remember,” Drew said. “Probably not as explosive as he’s been in the past, prior to the injury, but still a guy who has a tremendous work ethic and he competes. That’s the thing I admire about him and respect about him. He’s a team player and he’s going to give you everything he has when he’s on the floor.”
- Former Kings and Raptors swingman Malachi Richardson signed a G League contract and has been claimed off waivers by the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, a league source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Richardson was traded from Toronto to Philadelphia at last month’s deadline and was subsequently waived by the Sixers.