A Chris Grant Type of Summer (1)
Entering this offseason I had a clear vision of what I thought the Cavs needed to do to continue their upward trajectory and take the next step in the rebuilding process.
The war chest was full; the Cavs had all of the assets they needed to take the next major step, to compete for a championship. Salary space, developing players, draft picks, and most importantly, a young superstar.
If we learned two things from the Lebron era, it’s that, first, in this NBA, you need to strike while the iron is hot and, second, to realistically join the Championship hunt, you need at least two superstars. If a championship is within sight, or even right around the bend, you need to make a massive push to actually get there. Wait too long and it could all be gone in a cool summer night in Connecticut. Coming into this offseason, the Cavs couldn’t quite see the championship, but they were right around the bend.
In essence, I felt the Cavs had graduated from the OKC School of Draft-Building and should’ve been pursuing an advanced degree at Morey’s School of Trades and Free Agency. As much as I love Tristan and as much as I like Dion, they aren’t Harden and Westbrook. Chris Grant hasn’t drafted any busts, but he didn’t nail it like SEA/OKC did; not many teams do and not all drafts provide that type of talent, so it’s not necessarily a knock on Chris Grant. It’s clear, the Cavs are going to be competitive for the foreseeable future; which is to say, no longer will the Cavs have the ability to rely on draft building. It’s time to make a trade or sign a free agent. Such must be the lifecycle of a rebuilding team not satisfied with merely making the playoffs, and not striking gold every year in the draft.(6)
Most professional analysts opined that the 2013 NBA draft class didn’t contain a player truly worthy of the #1 draft pick. With this in mind, I was rooting for Chris Grant to take matters into his own hands, Daryl Morey style, and trade a package of picks and players for a second All Star or an above average or better Center before the draft. It seemed to me, maybe incorrectly, that there were players that could get the Cavs into contention that the Cavs could have acquired. Cousins, Aldridge, Love and Pau were the gold standard; rumors abounded regarding all of them and their potential availability.
Long shots? Sure. But any one of them would’ve put the Cavs in the fight for East supremacy, and for that, I would’ve traded Dion, Tristan, Zeller, Varejao, draft picks, or any combination thereof. I refuse to believe a deal could not have been made.
Maybe it wouldn’t have been pretty, maybe we would have had to part with some good guys, and take on some bad ones, but tough shit. In this NBA, and with this Cavs team, Chris Grant’s going to have to bite the bullet eventually to get a second superstar. No longer can Grant be concerned with winning the deals and partaking only in lopsidedly favorable transactions as a required intermediary facilitating a larger deal. Grant needs to pony up, needs to have other teams facilitate his deals. The time is now. Actually, it was a couple months ago.
So, as it turned out the Cavs didn’t make a splashy, pre-draft trade, and as I sat in the Q during the draft party and watched Stern troll Cleveland in front of the world, and stutter out the name "A- A - Anthony Bennett" I immediately thought, "finally Grant pulled off a trade. No way we’d take Bennett # 1 overall when he was projected so much lower, this must be part of a bigger deal that will break any second."
The Q was eerily silent.
Nothing on Twitter.
Nothing on the jumbo-tron.
Nothing on the radio.
No way the Cavs just took Bennett #1 overall, right? WRONG. Chris Grant Chris-Grant’d(10) us all again; just a magician with his flash paper and misdirection.
Then, 4 picks later, the Pelicans pulled off the Cavs deal. Destiny got this one just a tiny bit wrong. The Cavs should have been the team trading with 76ers. Holiday should be Kyrie’s running mate. And yes, Kyrie and Jrue can play together. Holiday can defend shooting guards without problem, and offensively, especially with Kyrie’s shooting ability, they’d be great together.(2) It would’ve taken our 1st overall pick, and a top five protected pick next year. Would you rather have Jrue Holiday and the 42nd pick or Anthony Bennett and next years pick? This is a no-brainer. I mean, am I missing something? Why did Grant not do this deal?
And when we draft a power forward to play in a crowded front court, you can’t say it’s because of the roster fit.
No pre-draft trades, no draft day trades, (3) at least we still have the rest of free agency and trades. No one knows more about the next opportunity than a Cleveland fan.
Maybe we’ll make an offer on Pekovic? Nope. He eventually signs a lucrative deal, I can live with this. Kirilenko? Nope. He signs for a sandwich. Blatche? Nope. Another sandwich. Maybe we’ll make a move at Gortat, who was already bitching about playing behind Len? Nope. Unless it’s wrapped in a bow and served on a silver platter, Chris Grant won’t accept it. No, these deals wouldn’t have necessarily wowed me, but they show there were decent players out there that the Cavs could have had made a run at, and apparently didn’t.
But Andrew Bynum. Hasn’t played in a year? Refuses to work out for teams? Yeah, the Cavs definitely need him. Chris Grant needs him. He’s the perfect Chris Grant move, right? Low risk, high reward, partially guaranteed money, team option? If only the NBA was a vacuum, like the one in which Chris Grant analyzes individual deals, this would be perfect. If this was a secondary maneuver, if this was signing Greg Oden for another sandwich, if this was after trading for Holiday on draft day, fine. But when we bank an entire offseason on Bynum, heads need to roll. Grant can’t blame Byron Scott for this one.(5) Bynum might play, and if he does, great, I think he could be a tremendous addition, but I needed more than a maybe. To call this offseason a success, the Cavs needed a sure bet. (4) Holiday is a sure bet, Bynum is roulette.
It’s not like this was an important offseason for the Cavs, or anything, so no biggie. It was just the offseason before the first year that the Cavs are really competing since Lebron left. The Cavs’ first sight of the championship is right around the bend, and Grant took his foot off the gas pedal. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the offseason, but, as always, I’m still excited for the Cavs 2013-14 season.
The Cavs will win a lot of games this year, make the playoffs, and hopefully make some noise. The Cavs will hide Grant’s flawed offseason. The continued development of Kyrie, Dion, TT and Zeller, and Brown’s defense will win the Cavs a lot more games than last year.(7) Chris Grant will get another opportunity at the trade deadline, and again next offseason.(8) And maybe Bynum will stay healthy, or get that bionic suit from Elysium, or maybe Bennett will be better than I or any of the analysts suspect, and my skepticism will be proven wrong; I really hope so.
Until then, I will be disappointed with what I see as missed opportunities.
Then again, I’m just some dude who likes watching basketball, so what do I know? Not like my opinion matters, anyways. And the truth is, I actually have a fair amount of faith in the Cavs management; Chris Grant and Co. have earned a certain modicum of faith from years past, and I don’t question them lightly. Grant proved he could get the rebuild plane in the air; now let’s see if he can land it.
(1) I touched on this in what I think was my single offseason comment, and I was uniformly ripped by the FTS in-crowd. The comment was during the celebration of signing Bynum and was off the cuff and more blabbering pessimism than reasoned logic, pretty much the same as this is, but with about 1,500 less words. So, there’s that.
(2) In fact, they played extremely well together in that televised Team USA scrimmage.
(3) At least any worth mentioning.
(4) I like Jarrett Jack a lot. That is a very good signing, but not enough to carry the offseason.
(5) I’m not sure I liked the firing of Byron; at least it didn’t seem fair given the circumstances. Though, I love the hiring of Mike Brown.
(6) Of course there are exceptions, and things change, but the NBA is largely cyclical and teams are usually in the midst of one of four potential eras. An era of divine success, an era of divine failure, an era of cyclonic mediocrity, or a rebuilding era. Obviously the Cavs are in a rebuilding era, and there is a lifecycle for rebuilding teams: 1. Tank and stockpile assets. 2. Build through the draft. 3a. Get lucky and draft picks will be studs and you can compete, or 3b parlay assets into superstar trade acquisition and compete, or 3c Sign superstar free agent and compete, or 3d, fail to execute 3a through 3c and go back to stage 1, or join the Hawks in the era of cyclonic mediocrity. We are approaching stage 3. 3a is out, TT, Dion, Zeller, AB are not going to turn into the number 2 we need to compete for a title. I really don’t want to be the Cleveland Hawks for the next 10 years.
(7) This is actually shaping up to be similar to the perfect storm that allowed Derrick Rose to win his MVP. Massive improvement in team D, continued development in players, and a massive jump in wins and a young, marketable superstar leading the team. No, the Cavs aren’t going to have the best record, Cleveland is not going to get the hype that a mega-metro like Chicago got, and Kyrie’s not getting an MVP, but I see a lot of similarities. Kyrie’s got plenty of hype already, but by season’s end, I expect it to be bona fide superstar hype.
(8) If we make it all the way to next offseason, and we don’t have a major roster upgrade, I will officially be angry fan guy…. As if I’m not already, right?
(9) Lebron isn’t signing here next summer. The Heat are going to win it again this year, and the chance to 4peat will be too much of a dream for him to opt-out. Maybe summer of 2015, but not next summer.
(10) I thought about titling this whole thing, /Chris-Grant’d