August 2, 2014

David Griffin: Next Man Up

When the original announcement hit Twitter, that David Griffin was to inherit the reins of my favorite sports franchise from Chris Grant, I surprisingly thought very little of it. I, like most Cavs fans, had heard very few mentions of him previously and my first inclination was that he’d just be keeping the General Manager position warm for whomever Dan Gilbert selected to steer the ship full time in the summer. The firing of Grant itself seemed like an impulsive maneuver from a fed up owner who’d just witnessed perhaps his team’s most embarrassing loss of the year. I imagine Gilbert had to hold someone accountable for the mess and Grant was the most convenient victim for this disastrous season as his contract is not nearly as long as Mike Brown’s and he’s been directing the team much longer.

As such, Griffin never felt to me like he was part of the long term plan when originally installed. He would simply fill the vacancy temporarily, nothing more. After some digging though, I’m not quite sure.

Hard to Get

First, let me be clear: David Griffin does not need Dan Gilbert or the Cleveland Cavaliers’ charity. He would have been an NBA GM someday even had Grant not been canned. Hell, he could have been one already. He was Steve Kerr’s right hand in Phoenix during Kerr’s General Manager tenure and declined to interview for the vacancy left by Kerr’s resignation. Griffin started working for the Phoenix Suns organization in media relations as an intern in 1993. He was with the organization for 18 years working his way up to Vice President of Basketball Operations. There’s a good chance he was going to be offered the position, but for whatever reason he declined to even be considered. He later was offered and subsequently turned down the opportunity to become the Denver Nuggets’ General Manager back in 2010. Why? Supposedly because the job didn’t pay well enough. According to an ESPN LA report Griffin pulled himself out of consideration for the Los Angeles Clipper’s General Manager spot in 2012.

Griffin had preliminary conversations with Clippers officials at the pre-draft camp in Chicago a couple weeks ago but “feels it’s not the right move for his career right now,” the source said.

He’s been playing hard to get with NBA franchises for the past four years. This isn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity for the man. If the Cavaliers do poorly the rest of the season under his management no future prospective NBA employer is going to hold it against him. He’ll be just fine whether Gilbert decides to keep him long term or not.

I do think Griffin wants this job though. Cleveland was his first stop upon leaving the organization that raised him, Phoenix. He made sure to point out during his first presser as General Manager that all the tools, facilities, and funds needed to succeed are made available to those employed by the Cavs organization. He’s stayed here despite offers of more authority, and probably pay, elsewhere. The ownership he’s working for has shown it will move into the luxury tax if needed. The Cavs in spite of their struggles still have plenty of cap flexibility, draft picks, and young talent going forward. Griffin alleged that Gilbert has given him full powers to do the job of a GM. If true, that tells me he definitely has a shot to stay. Giving him power over personnel decisions to Griffin, especially considering the looming trade deadline, screams of Gilbert having faith in the man. Perhaps, the fact that such a competent man was waiting in the wings made the decision to remove Grant easier for Gilbert.

Should we be scared?

So, Gilbert thinks Griffin is capable, but do I? No comment? It’s hard to garner too much about these front office types. If you ask me who’s a better quarterback prospect between Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, I can spend a day on YouTube watching every collegiate throw each of them has ever made. By the end of it I’d actually have a decently reasoned opinion on the matter. With a guy like David Griffin all I can do is google his name in conjunction with phrases like “suns”, “interviews”, “cavs”, “drafts”, and more and pray someone somewhere decided to give the guy an in depth interview. The best I could find was this. He’s not even the most popular David Griffin! DavidGriffin.com is devoted to a real estate company by the same name. His Twitter account, @dg_riff, has only 454 followers and I’m pretty sure that is up by at least 150 from yesterday. So to even pretend to be capable of predicting what type of job he’ll do as Cavs GM would be a farce. I will say plenty of guys rise up through organizations and are touted publicly as “promising” only to fail when given the chance to run a team.1

His record to the public starts now and fans/media will judge him by what he does now that he’s at the top spot and the buck stops with him. Griffin navigated a question about whether the Cavs would be “buyers” or “sellers” at the trade deadline by answering that “we’re going to buy to the extent that it makes us better for the long haul”. This answer is amazingly ambiguous, though some media outlets decided to run with it and determine that the Cavs would be “buyers” headed into the next few weeks, he’s really just saying “I’ll do whatever is best for the organization.” This could mean doing nothing at all.

What we do know is that Griffin has the next two weeks to figure it out. As for the rest of us, we’ll just sitting back, anxiously watching the onslaught of trade rumors that are surely headed Cleveland’s way, all while wondering if David Griffin really is the future. And if not, then who is?

Image via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports

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Footnotes:

  1. *cough* Chris Grant *cough* []
  • RGB

    Good luck Mr. Griffin.
    Step by step guide to improving the Cavs:
    Step 1: Fire Mike Brown.
    Step 2: See Step 1.

  • woofersus

    It’s possible Gilbert knew Griffin would be in high demand at the end of the season and felt he needed to get a look at him beforehand or he might bolt for a situation with less uncertainty. Grant may have been a sacrificial lamb to some extent, but things weren’t working and Brown is getting at least until the end of the year regardless, so why not try out the hot commodity you’re sitting on?

    I will say this. Griffin hasn’t made any moves yet, but whatever he said to the team had some effect. They’ve played with more urgency and it’s translated into wins, and last night they played real, honest-to-goodness Mike Brown basketball. The last time the Cavs looked that gritty, LeBron James was wearing yellow.

  • JHop

    It’s getting to the point where I might erect a statue of Mike Brown in front of the Q just so that the people of Cleveland can ceremoniously knock it down.

  • CB Everett

    Good move! Only Pastor Rick Warren can save this holy abomination.

  • TSR3000

    Gold not yellow, brah. Gold.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    McLoud and Carr got the memo: First remind everyone how many times Irving and Waiters smile and second talk up David Griffin as much as possible!!!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Or the pigeons have a place.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m keeping an open mind while I eagerly wait to see if Mr. Griffin and the Cavaliers do anything at the trade deadline. A few days ago quite a few of us had him completely overhauling the roster but I think that was just us being hopeful. Certainly as was pointed out the Cavaliers have more then a few options/assets from which to deal which is why I’m eagerly waiting to see if Griffin does anything. Personally I’ve cooled on the notion of a major roster overhaul instead you might see some tinkering BUT then again who knows. At least the Cavaliers are 2-0 after the firing of Grant even if those 2 victories were nail biting and painful to watch,

  • arnold_palmer

    Great, the Cavs are 40 days away from playing with purpose.

  • Lunch

    David Griffin, just bring in the best player talent that’s willing to work together with each other, and continue to follow in the footsteps of Chris Grant in terms of making great trades that brings in additional draft picks and other assets, and signing players to contracts that doesn’t bog down the Cavs payroll for the long term, and you will do just fine as the GM.
    Good luck, David.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Is that all?

  • Lunch

    Well let’s see. What else does David need to do….(may update this list later)

    eat great food.

    Take out the trash.

    Literally do this: http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/games/spankthemonkey

    Pass gas and blame it on the dog.

    Other than that, I can’t think of anything else. ;)

  • BenRM

    I wonder if Griffin was among the purported voices in favor of things like the Harden trade or was a person who was against drafting Bennett (as I have to assume there were Bennett detractors).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t believe that Harden rumor OR I don’t want to believe that Harden rumor. I put it to the side with the Indians almost getting Randy Johnson.

  • Frank

    The Cavs had 2 assistant GMs, any idea what is going to happen to the other one?

  • mgbode

    well, if I was just to venture a guess, and this is me just spit-balling here, I would say that he would now be the lone assistant GM. quite the promotion for the fellow.

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    Who knows what this move means… but speaking as a Griffin… dude better not ruin the family name. ;0P

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    So basically David Griffin is the Cavs version of Ray Farmer.