INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant has never been one to make impulsive decisions.
And he’s not about to start now despite the mounting frustration that is building with the team’s fans as the losses mount for the fourth straight year.
The Cavaliers entered the season with high hopes of making the playoffs but at 16-29 don’t appear even close to a shadow of a true playoff contender despite being just 2 1/2 games out in the awfully weak Eastern Conference.
“We’re all accountable for it, including myself,” Grant said. “It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing to our fans. The fans deserve better. That’s hard, but we’ve got a very experienced, creative dynamic group of people who are working on a daily basis to help us become more consistent. We know it’s there. Our guys, they’re learning, they’re growing and we have expectations for them and for ourselves.
“It’s disappointing. We feel that every day.”
Grant made a rare in-season appearance, that was not related to a trade, to address the floundering team that just lost 4 of 5 at home and is in the midst of year 4 of it’s rebuild in the post-LeBron era.
Head coach Mike Brown blasted his team’s lack of effort Tuesday night, which has been a common theme the last few years, following a 100-89 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which came on the heels of Sunday’s game that saw the Cavaliers score just 6 points in the third quarter and blow a 20-point lead before losing to the Suns.
“Our competitive spirit is non-existent,” Brown said Tuesday night. “Maybe I need to shake some things up.”
Grant said Wednesday afternoon that the lack of effort will be addressed internally but added that the players don’t like losing any more than he does.
“The lack of effort is just not acceptable,” Grant said. “It’s not who we are and who we want to be. It’s got to be addressed head on. There’s no excuses for that, but we’ve seen our guys compete and execute consistently and that’s really what we’ve got to do a better job of.”
While there appears to be a serious disconnect between Brown and his players, Grant doesn’t see an issue there.
“Mike has done a fantastic job with these guys individually,” Grant said. “He spends an enormous amount of time watching film with guys, teaching, coaching. I believe he has connected with the guys.”
So it has to be the roster right? The Cavaliers don’t win or play well enough as a team to win, but again Grant denied that chemistry, or lack of, is the culprit for their woes.
“All of the guys are capable of playing at a very high level,” Grant said. “Every time we walk on the court we feel we have an opportunity to win regardless of who we are playing. The guys are capable, the talent’s there. We gotta execute it.”
As for shaking things up, Grant will leave it up to Brown to do it because he has no plans to – at the moment. Grant doesn’t see making another trade before the trade deadline as a fix or necessity for the team.
“We added (Luol) Deng, which was a big trade and a big position of need for us,” Grant said. “He’s been fantastic. Like anything else, this group is capable of doing better than how they’ve played recently during this stretch, but at the same time we’re a team that’s always looking to improve ourselves.
“We’re never going to say we’re never going to do anything. That’s not our focus right now. Our focus is, ‘Hey we’ve got some talent on this team and we’ve got to get them to play more consistent.'”
It’s clearly easier said than done.
But if the primary issue isn’t talent or coaching, then what on earth is wrong with the Cavaliers?
“We’ve seen this team play well together and click and it hasn’t been consistent and that is the piece that we have to a better job of,” Grant said. “You’ve heard Mike talk about it — we have execute better, we have to move the ball better and we have to trust each other. You’ve heard those terms before and we’ve got to get back to doing that. The group is capable of it.”
Grant pointed to the most recent west coast trip that saw them go 3-2, including an impressive win at Denver, as reason to believe that the team can win as presently constituted.
“We’re in a tough stretch,” Grant said. “We came off that West Coast trip and that Denver game. We played good basketball. We played really good basketball and even in this tough stretch we’ve played a half or two of good basketball. Unfortunately, we haven’t played two full halves. All we can do is continue to stress and push that.
“We know it’s there because we’ve done it and we have to hold people accountable to it.”
Unfortunately the 1-4 homestand is more indicative of the team’s play this season.
The Cavaliers hit the road following Wednesday’s practice. They’ll play at New York on Thursday before heading to Texas to face Houston and Dallas.
Another major cloud hanging over the team is the less than spectacular season that rookie Anthony Bennett is having. Grant did not rule out the possibility of Bennett playing in the NBADL this season and dismissed the notion that the team has avoided the move because he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
“I think the priority should be here for him working with our coaches, being on the floor getting those experiences,” Grant said. “Last night was great. He performed well and played well and you could tell he was ready for the opportunity.”
Bennett scored a career-high 15 points in 31 minutes in Tuesday night’s loss.
Sadly, that’s as good as it gets for the Cavaliers.
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