July 23, 2014

Chris Grant and the Cavaliers’ Leadership Dynamic

Over the weekend the conversation around Twitter about the Cavs and the draft turned toward the dynamic in the Cavs’ organization.  It is only natural when the owner of the team is as strong a personality as Dan Gilbert.  Love him or hate him (I know people in both camps) he isn’t an owner to just sit back without having a strong opinion.  From the early days of his ownership of the team when he cleaned house to his infamous letter, we know what kind of guy Dan Gilbert is.  That makes it reasonable to wonder just how much power and autonomy Chris Grant has in the Cavs’ organization.

It is assumed that Dan Gilbert wants to win right away.  We assume this about most rich people who can afford instant gratification in so many phases of their lives.  What else could you possibly presume about a guy who has his own private jet?  Is that sense of entitlement for instant gratification so strong that it might overrule Chris Grant’s attempt to build the Cavaliers for the long haul because his boss might be impatient?  Some of you obviously believe that to be the case.

I’m not so sure, though.  In conversations over the weekend it was my stance that if Chris Grant has to work under conditions like those that he ought to quit.  I am not a qualified talent evaluator by any stretch.  At the same time, I am of the opinion that Jonas Valanciunas just might end up being a more productive NBA player than Enes Kanter.  The problem is that many feel no matter what player Valanciunas ends up becoming, it will take two to three years for him to ripen as a talent.  That’s where the Dan Gilbert impatience principle could come into play if such a dynamic exists in the Cavaliers’ organization.

Dan Gilbert has deep pockets and he wants to exercise that checkbook to be competitive.  At the same time, hopefully he believes the criticism that he levies toward Miami when he says there are no shortcuts.  The best way to exercise the checkbook to improve the team is by drafting talent that is worthy of maximum contracts.  I can’t say with any kind of expertise that that guy is Jonas Valanciunas, but if the only downside to drafting him over another player is the slower development timetable, then the Cavaliers have the wrong priorities.

As Scott said on Twitter over the weekend, the Indians have been making unpopular decisions since 2007.  The Indians’ hold on first place is tenuous at best, but it’s still first place.  The Cavaliers need to have the same level of bravery to stand strong in the face of short-sighted criticism.  Chris Grant and his staff need to be able to do what they need to do to improve the Cavaliers over the next decade, not necessarily for a marginal increase in wins in the upcoming season.  They can’t be beholden to the unrealistic expectations of an excitable fan-base or owner (if that truly is the case.)

Dan Gilbert says all the right things about building the team and doing things the right way.  As a rich guy, you know he must have seen the story play out at least a hundred times in the financial world since the recession began.  Making plays for short-term profitability to boost stock price quite frequently sees CEOs out of a job and stockholders holding a very heavy bag.  Same thing in sports.  Without the autonomy to do his job and pick who he thinks are the best players as opposed to those that might be the most popular or productive right away, Chris Grant could find himself out of a job and labeled a failure.

  • TSR3000

    Irving and Kanter and a good scorer/defender via trade.

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  • Harv 21

    If Gilbert significantly influences draft decisions, and he is some prototype of Impatient Self-Made Man, why did he “permit” the drafting of Eyenga? Why hasn’t he traded JJ already?

    It’s just as probable that a guy who built an organization that size from nothing knows how to select competent people and let them do their jobs as it is that he is another Jerry Jones. Could be a more publicity-happy version of Dick Jacobs, demanding the details and sometimes going off but ultimately letting the pros do their jobs. We don’t know yet.

  • tsm

    In addition to this draft, we need a lottery pick next year to put in place the building blocks. Imagine getting Irving and Kanter this year and then a wing player such as Barnes next year. With JJ, that makes 4 young players to build with. Of course we may need to trade Davis & Jamison at the deadline next winter to make sure we achieve the lottery. Let’s take our time and build a solid contender.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    I may be in the minority, but I’ve been very pleased with the work of not only Chris Grant, but Tom Heckert with the Browns and Chris Antoneti with the Indians.

    For the first time in probably forever, all three of the local teams are being run by competent people with a plan.

  • saggy

    i believe that you take the best player with the best fit for TODAY. Can you remember what you were doing 2-3 years ago? did everything go as planned for you since then? I never bought in to that line of thinking about “he is a better player now but the other guy will be better in the future” unless one guy is 5 years older or something like that.

    The NBA draft is littered with guys who were supposed to be amazing in 2-3 years, but for whatever reason, weren’t.