Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert "remains optimistic that not all is lost" in the midst of "this disastrous 16-33 season, even after what he called 'the most challenging time' in his nine years as majority owner" and firing GM Chris Grant on Thursday, according to Jodie Valade of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Gilbert said, "We're focused on the future and the chemistry and the culture and the environment of this team. If we can turn that around, anything can happen. Anything's possible this season." Gilbert "no longer was confident the general manager who put it all together was the one to lead the franchise." He said, "This is really about a directional move in the franchise. The fans deserve more." The Cavaliers head into Friday night on a six-game losing streak, and Gilbert said, "At this point, after the amount of time the former general manager had, we just felt it was time. We needed a shift in certain cultural aspects and a different environment." He added, "We really are solely motivated by one thing around here. It's not the value of the franchise. It's not a profit-loss statement. It's not a spreadsheet. It's delivering to the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the fans of Ohio what they deserve. They deserve better than what they've seen this year" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7). In Cleveland, Mary Schmitt Boyer notes Grant joined the Cavaliers as VP/Basketball Operations & Assistant GM in '05 and "was promoted in the summer of 2010 after the resignation of Danny Ferry." Grant "won most of the deals he made," but critics "questioned his drafting." In the past week, there have been "numerous stories about unhappy players and internal conflicts, and the play on the court has been disheartening." Gilbert thanked Grant for his work and called him ''a class act and a class guy" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7).
NEXT MAN UP: The PLAIN DEALER's Valade noted Cavs VP/Basketball Operations David Griffin has been "elevated to acting general manager," and the "former right-hand man of Grant has been with the Cavaliers since September 2010 -- shortly after" Grant took over as GM. Griffin came to the Cavaliers after 17 seasons with the Suns, where he served as Senior VP/Basketball Operations "for three years prior to his departure" (CLEVELAND.com, 2/6). ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted Grant was a "driving force in re-hiring coach Mike Brown last year, and the players have not responded positively to the change" (ESPN.com, 2/6). In Cleveland, Terry Pluto writes it is "hard to separate Brown from Grant when handing out blame for this collapse." It seems "pointless for the Cavs to retain Brown" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/7).
WHAT WENT WRONG: In Akron, Jason Lloyd writes the Cavaliers "were expected to win this season," and that "ultimately is the root of the problem in all of this." It "isn't the talent on the roster that's the problem, it's the effort (or lack of) the players are producing." Grant was "an easy target in the media because he was intensely private, shied away from interviews and rarely spoke to many national writers." But he was "brilliant with trades and manipulating the NBA’s salary cap, worked incredibly long hours year-round and tirelessly scouted colleges and the world in an effort to resurrect a franchise that was once the best in the Eastern Conference" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/7). GRANTLAND's Zach Lowe wrote under the header, "Grant Runs Out Of Luck (And Time) In Cleveland." Grant "did some good things" as GM. But the "bottom line is this: You can't have four consecutive top-four picks, use two on big men, and come away with just one player, Kyrie Irving, who is a lock to be an above-average NBA rotation guy." In addition to the front office, the franchise also "should ask itself" whether Brown is the "right coach for this next phase" (GRANTLAND.com, 2/6).
IT STARTS AT THE TOP: In Akron, Marla Ridenour writes Gilbert "should no longer escape culpability for the mess the Cavs have become." Gilbert had the "audacity to say he likes the team’s talent and believes it can succeed with what it has, including Brown." That sounded "delusional and/or like a desperate attempt to sell tickets." Gilbert seems to "foolishly believe that firing Grant will be enough to shock his team back on a path to the playoffs." But with the locker room "fractured and the losses mounting, players might instead be saying Gilbert got it wrong again" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/7).