In a sequestered Manhattan room on the mid-May night of the NBA draft lottery, the ping-pong balls bounced the Cleveland Cavaliers' way and inspired a high-ranking franchise executive to deliver a loud proclamation within a roomful of rivals. "We're never coming back here again!" the Cavaliers official blurted. "We're never coming back!" While this hadn't been the arrogantly delusional boast of a basketball decision-maker, it did speak to an organizational arrogance that surrounded the three-plus lost years under recently deposed general manager Chris Grant. For the second time in three seasons, Cleveland had won the lottery. Only this time, front office executives were mostly relieved that they hadn't been saddled with the No. 1 overall pick in a draft that didn't include a clear-cut No. 1 pick. Beyond selecting Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Grant made one draft mistake after another. Eventually, he spent his final months on the job calling teams and offering those overvalued young players in preposterous deals for marquee talents. LaMarcus Aldridge. Anthony Davis. Andre Drummond. Eventually, few executives had the inclination to listen to Grant's pitches on one-sided deals. Within months of LeBron James leaving for the Miami Heat as a free agent, there was a belief, fostered within James' inner-circle of Cleveland-based agents and marketers, that the planet's best player could be recruited back in summer of 2014. Through mismanagement and personnel miscalculations, the Cavaliers have made it increasingly improbable that James foresees the storybook ending in Cleveland. In a lot of ways, the elevation of David Griffin to acting GM gives the Cavaliers a chance to make some deals and improve themselves. While league officials loathed dealing with Grant and his non-starter, one-sided offers, Griffin has stronger relationships, excellent player personnel and a leadership track record with the Phoenix Suns that led to him getting two offers – Memphis and Denver – to be a GM. "[Griffin] excels at the trade deadline, so he'll have an immediate opportunity to impress [Cavs owner Dan Gilbert]," an Eastern Conference GM told Yahoo Sports. Nevertheless, Gilbert's plan is to search the NBA landscape for Grant's replacement. Even when few else believed in Grant as GM, Gilbert had long been his most ardent supporter. In the end, it set back the franchise when it desperately needed to reconstruct credibility in the wake of James' departure.
How Cleveland lost its way, and lost a chance at LeBron's return
Yahoo! Sports | Feb 12