INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – The culture change inside the Cleveland Cavaliers organization was abundantly obvious as David Griffin emerged from his office into the Cavs media room.
With exhilaration and joy he paced the room addressing the Cleveland media about the NBA Trade deadline. “We have a group of people here who are dedicated to the mission at a very, very deep level” said Griffin. Thanking everyone from ownership to seemingly the Chinese food guy, Griffin was adamant on how this trade deadline required an all around team effort and that many should be acknowledged for the hard work that went into it.
Griffin extolled the virtues of the newest Cavalier, Spencer Hawes, saying “he is a player who we see as being a very good complimentary fit.” Hawes is a 7 foot athlete who can space the floor, help the young Cavaliers grow, and be one of the players that can take some stress off of Anderson Varejao. Hawes who was the 10th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft has spent his entire career with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his time with Philly he has averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 block a game in his first 6 seasons. Those numbers have gone up this year and according to the Cavs GM he was “a target over an extended period of time for multiple teams.” Griffin continued by saying, “the number of messages I got after the trade was announced hoping we were redirecting him is fairly staggering.”
In a move that seems to indicate a “playoff or bust” thinking inside the organization, Griffin stated that he didn’t believe that playoffs were a must and that his is only directive is to build a team that can win championships. When pressed about some of Hawes’ off the court political commentary, Griffin said “we do a great deal of background work, but I will be fine with him being around. Spencer is a tremendous teammate and a very coachable player.” While much as been made about the Cavs recent emphasis on collecting draft picks and other assets, Griffin said the reason they can be used in moves to make the team better. When asked if the Cavs ever came close to trading small forward Luol Deng, Griffin responded by saying “the team never came close to moving Deng” and that he talked to Deng earlier in the day and no fences needed to be mended. The most striking comment of the press conference came when discussing his policy on untouchable players. “No one is untouchable!” said Griffin.
The Cavs turnaround has been quick and decisive. It also coincides with the firing of Chris Grant and the instillation of Griffin as the General Manager. Whether it was his laid back pacing of the room as he addressed the media or the way he answered each question directly and with great detail. The vibe in Independence is much more relaxed and focused then it was three week ago. This leads me to believe that David Griffin has already begun to put in the culture changes that Dan Gilbert stated the Cavs needed.
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