Griffin speaks as interesting offseason begins
CLEVELAND – With his own future with the Cleveland Cavaliers uncertain, interim general manager David Griffin addressed the media Tuesday before the Cavs endure another offseason of watching the playoffs at home. Griffin’s name has been drawing interest from other teams in the NBA.
“This is the organization where I want to be in,” Griffin said. “You are either all the way in or all the way out. There is no in between. You declare a side. I’m all the way in.
“I am not going to campaign. I am not running for mayor. I understand what we need to do to get better, and if Dan (Gilbert) and his ownership group are of that mindset, we’re going to get better together. And if not, they are going to do what they are comfortable with.”
Griffin took over for Chris Grant in early February and spun deals to acquire Luol Deng for injured and disgruntled Andrew Bynum and sent picks to the 76ers for big man Spencer Hawes.
As of now, Griffin is still the interim general manager, but that could change in a couple of different ways. Griffin could have the “interim” tag removed, or he could accept a job elsewhere.
“We’ve had a lot of dialogue (with Gilbert) since February, and I feel very confident that ownership and myself will be moving in the same direction,” Griffin said. “But I also don’t need to hear anything from them to know that tomorrow I need to get better. I don’t feel a great sense of wonder right now. I know what the mission is. He doesn’t need to tell me that.”
Griffin should not need to plead his case to remain in his current position. He helped the Cavs reach a 17-16 record in 33 games as general manager.
“I would sell the vision I have of the organization,” Griffin said. “I would sell my faith in the people that work here, and my faith in the player’s ability to improve. I’ve been here long enough to know the mistakes that have been made, and I have been here long enough to know the positives we have.”
Many Cavaliers played in their first meaningful games of their careers down the stretch, but the team flopped in most of them. The Cavaliers failed to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year, while posting a record of 33-49. They will once again be in the lottery for the NBA draft, and have an 81.3 percent chance they land the ninth pick in the pinball machine.
“I think we played with better spirit, and I think they surrendered to the system a little bit more,” Griffin said. “Up to that point, we had given a lot of games away where we had built big leads collectively, and then we gave them away individually; standing around watching people go to work. I think we did a much better job the second half of the season, despite injuries. If there is a take away for me in that situation, that is what’s encouraging.
“Our results are totally unacceptable, period. There is no one that is comfortable with that. This fan base deserves and demands that we deliver a better product, and we are going to do that.”
This summer, everyone in the Cavs organization will be under evaluation, including the Cavaliers best player, All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving.
Irving averaged 20.8 points per game this season and 6.1 assists. Irving played in 71 games this year, his most as a pro. He missed stints of three and eight games due to injury. July 1 is the earliest day the Cavs can offer him a max contract.
“I think he has made the strides in terms of his openness to realizing his role as a leader,” said Griffin. “He’s 22 years old. We have to have realistic expectations for him. What he has done a good job of is opening up to the team, and trusting more. You’ve seen how good he can be when he plays with USA basketball, when he trusts everyone around him. That is a difficult process for a young kid. I feel like he has made really good strides in that area.”
With a lottery pick and some assets, Griffin is confident this team will be in playoff form. The Cavs could have up to $26 million in cap space. If Dan Gilbert’s son, Nick, and his bowtie strike some luck again this July, the Cavs could pick in the top three, but the odds of that happening are 6.1 percent.
“We don’t have any impediments to success,” Griffin stated. “My charge is to take us in a much more clear direction. I’ve never seen anything like this fan base consistently. It’s why we feel such an incredible sense of urgency. They’ve been that way consistently throughout this process. When we were losing a few games in a row, we were selling games out with people ready to