CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – In a stunning development, David Griffin is out as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Griffin’s contract, which expires June 30, will not be renewed.
Cavs owner and chairman Dan Gilbert announced the decision Monday night on the 1-year anniversary of their thrilling win in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals in which he characterized the move as “mutual.”
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was first to report the news.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship,” Gilbert said in a statement. “We have no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group, but we are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead.”
Not only is Griffin out, but senior vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden is also out.
Gilbert is expected to appoint 17-year former NBA veteran Chauncey Billups to take over basketball operations according to multiple reports.
Griffin, who helped build the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA championship roster and a team that appeared in 3 consecutive NBA Finals through a series of calculated trades following the return of LeBron James, could not come to terms with Gilbert on a new contract.
Differences between Griffin and Gilbert on the future direction of the organization led to the split according to ESPN.
The separation comes within 3 days of the NBA Draft – the Cavs don’t have a pick but could elect to buy one – and while Griffin was engaged in trade discussions with the Chicago Bulls for All Star Jimmy Butler as well as with the Indiana Pacers for All Star Paul George.
Where those talks are is now anyone’s guess as the Cavs look to enhance their roster while having few assets and virtually no cap room to try and overtake the Golden State Warriors who beat them in 5 games during the NBA Finals.
After James’ return in 2014, Griffin orchestrated the acquisition of Kevin Love for No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins and then in the middle of the ’14-’15 season pulled off a 3-team trade with Oklahoma City and the New York Knicks for Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith. He also added Timofey Mozgov a week later and this past year swung a trade for sharp-shooter Kyle Korver.
Griffin also fired head coach David Blatt and elevated Tyronn Lue in January of 2016 despite the team starting 30-8, a move that was criticized league-wide but ultimately paid off when Lue helped lead the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to end Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought.
During that championship run it was Griffin who wrote a company-wide letter after the team fell behind 3-1 to the 73-win Warriors explaining his belief that the team would mount a historic comeback and shock the world.
Despite constructing a championship roster, Gilbert failed to extend Griffin, who took over in May 2014 for fired GM Chris Grant, last summer after giving head coach Tyronn Lue a new deal. In fact no GM under Gilbert has ever received a second contract since he bought the team in 2005.
James actually campaigned on behalf of Griffin during an exclusive interview back in April with ESPN by saying he saw no reason as to why Griffin shouldn’t get a new deal.
“It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension,” James told ESPN. “He’s pulled every move, he’s tried to make every move happen to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here – from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”
And now Gilbert has let the piece that could help position James to win another NBA title walk away under very bizarre circumstances.