Good evening Cavaliers Fans...or NBA Fans...or whomever you are. I actually don't care if you like the Cavs, the NBA, or basketball at all. I'm writing this for me, not for you. I want to delve into what Chris Grant has accomplished since taking over as the GM of the Cavaliers. Because I have fallen trap to quite a bit of argument (on both sides of the fence). We need to really look at all of the moves he's made to have a legit argument on what he's done since becoming a Cavalier. This includes everything from Trades, FA Signings, Drafting and hiring coaches.
Chris Grant - General Magician - Trade Wizard
The general consensus is that Grant wins trades. Even when it looks like nothing is available, or worth taking, he seems to pull things off.
It, of course, didn't actually start with the trade for Baron Davis and the unprotected 1st rounder that eventually became Kyrie Irving. It started with sending Delonte "Gloria-Loving" West and Sebastian Telfair to the Timberwolves for Ryan Hollins and Ramon Sessions and a 2013 2nd round pick. Delonte never played for the Wolves. Telfair hasn't done much else since then...and is now out of the league. Hollins would eventually be released (though he is still in the league) and Sessions eventually gets traded to the Lakers. I think it's an easy win for Chris Grant in this category.
Back to the Baron Davis trade. The Clippers staff seemed excited...because the upcoming draft looked to be weak. They got back an "All-Star" in Mo Williams (even at the time, I believed he was only an All-Star because of Lebron). And, they really didn't believe that they were going to win the lottery netting the #1 overall pick.
Because of how the draft lottery (and the new CBA/Amnesty rule) worked out, it's an easy win for Grant.
He also managed to acquire rookie center Semih Erden and (FTS Favorite) forward Luke Harangody from the Celtics for a 2013 second-round draft pick. I believe you can still find an occasional game thread where someone somewhere "pours one out for Gody". (Yes, that was a thing around here...leave it be...we're fine with it.) That draft pick was traded multiple times...and eventually became Jeff Withey. He's played 87 minutes this season. Another win for the Cavs here. Though, if Withey certainly has time to change this grade...but since I don't fell like following the draft pick around to see what Boston got for it, I'm giving us the win by sheer laziness.
His next trade was JJ Hickson for Omri Casspi and a heavily protected 1st round pick (now with Chicago, but we'll get to that.) Overall, this was a meh trade at the time. Omri had shown steady decline from the first half of his rookie season (which was quite impressive at the time). Hickson found himself in Coach Scott's doghouse too often. Hickson has bounced around the league to a few different teams since then (including a statistically impressive season with the Blazers). Casspi is gone. Because, you know, Byron Scott hates Jews. ***SIDEBAR***There was even a guy who posted in the comments section here (can't find the exact page) ranting about how he hated Jews. Because he wore a tie that had a semi-distasteful tie. Keep in mind, the Swastika had been around LONG before Hitler made it famous. I think we can all agree that this is an easy win for the Cavs. We traded away a player we had no intention of resigning (especially after drafting Tristan Thompson)...and got a pick that helped us land Luol Deng. The Kings...they got nothing to show for it.
March15, 2012, we traded with the Lakers. This trade sent Ramon Sessions and Christian (sky)Eyenga for Jason Kapono, Luke Walton (another FTS Favorite) This netted us a 2012 Lakers first rounder (which we did get because they squeaked into the playoffs.) We also had the rights to swap first round picks in the 2013 draft. The 2012 pick (and our two second rounders) was used to move up and get Tyler Zeller.
July 2012, we made a huge trade with the Grizzlies. Just kidding. That trade comes later. This trade was DJ Kennedy for Jeremy Pargo. We also got a 2014 2nd rounder and cash out of this deal. Kennedy has done nothing in the NBA since leaving the Cavs. That pretty much guarantees us a win on this trade. January 2013, we do another trade with Memphis. We sent them Jon Leuer (who is playing fairly decently for them) for Marreese Speights, Josh Selby, Wayne Ellington, and a future first rounder. 2015-2016, if the pick falls 6-14, we get it. If not, then we wait. 2017-2018, it it's not Top 5, we get it. 2019, we get it no matter what happens. The NBA landscape changes so quickly...that it's tough to read exactly what a team will do 2-3 years from now. It's entirely possible we see this in 2016. It's more likely that we see it in 2017. Speights and Ellington played well for us for a year. But this was basically Leuer for the Pick. For the Grizzlies, it was saving on cash. At the time, this looked like a huge win for the Cavs. At the moment, is Leuer (backup big getting nearly 9 points and 4.5 boards in 18 minutes of action) worth a future pick. Probably. Easy win at the time. Looking back, it's a little more even, especially since we have none of those players on our roster.
Then of course there was the whole Luol Deng thing. I think that's a Massive win for the Cavaliers. It's easy to see why so many people like Chris Grant as a trade guy.
But what about Chris Grant as the draft artist. There has been a lot of talk about, sure he got Kyrie, that was easy. But since then, it seems like every pick has been questioned. So let's dig into that a bit more.
Next, it was who to take at #4. There was a lot of talk about taking Jonas V. There was some talk about taking Jan Vesely instead. However, there was some indication from statheads that Tristan Thompson might have been a good pick, based on advanced stats (something Chris Grant is said to favor.) Since then, Tristan Thompson has scored more points and grabbed more rebounds than any other big man in his draft class. So maybe, just maybe Chris Grant didn't reach. Maybe, just maybe, he made the right pick afterall. Especially when you factor in TT's evolving offense (last year he added a push shot...and this year...well, he switched shooting hands.) Every year since his Freshman year in college, his FT% has gone up. That's a nice stat to see. Especially when he now makes a respectable 67% of his shots. Add in that he's also shot more free throws per game every year in the NBA...and you're starting to see some solid growth and understanding out of this very raw and athletic prospect. Anybody else worth considering was either not coming over that year (Jonas V) or an even more raw prospect (Jan Vesely.) We weren't taking another PG after taking Kyrie...so that leaves Knight and Walker out of the equation. Klay Thompson would have been considered a reach...and how well would he have developed that first year when he didn't have Kyrie (who was injured quite a bit his first two seasons)? Klay got drafted outside of the Top 10 for a reason.
So...we get to 2012 where we (again) land the #4 pick (that's right, the #1 pick wasn't our pick folks...) Those same statheads mentioned above thought that Waiters was the #2 prospect behind Anthony Davis. Basically, by the time our pick came to us, FTS Favorites, Anthony Davis, MKG and Beal were all selected. That basically left a lot of people feeling like Barnes would be our pick. There were some who clamored for Drummond to be the guy. There was a smattering of Jeremy Lamb mentioned. There was no way were taking Damian Lillard. So, Waiters it was...and boy oh boy did Grant get blasted for that pick. But, since that drat, only Davis and Lillard have scored more points. Only Lillard has dished out more assists. If we had drafted Drummond (a guy who was a shaky prospect), there would have been nobody to feed him and TT the ball when Kyrie goes down. There would be nobody to run the offense. Dion can do that. Plus, Drummond sucks at free throws. And...there's also a fit issue...how would he have fit next to TT...who hadn't yet shown the serious offensive progress he has shown since then. Hard enough to develop one big. Trying to develop two at the same time...wow. Could this have worked though...sure. It's hard to find long, athletic bigs. He is all of that. But he was so raw that it scared teams away. That's why he fell. Somebody had to eventually take a flyer on him. It just wasn't worth the gamble at #4. Ultimately, this was the right pick.
So then we get to Anthony Bennett. Much has been written about him. Say what you want, but he has progressed since his first few games this season...if only because he's finally managed to score. His 72 points places him at 16th in his draft class. His 68 rebounds, gets him to 12th. He's15th in Minutes played this season. Is anyone surprised at how high these numbers are considering how much has been written about his poor season to this point? Because I'm actually shocked. Seriously. For realz. His 7 assists have him tied for 22nd in his draft class for most dimes handed out. So we have a weak draft class. Because, to this point, only 36 players have received minutes this season. Seriously, two of them are Cavs...He might very well be the only player you can point to...and say...Chris Grant screwed up. But who was Grant going to take with the #1 pick? Personally, I was on the Noel bandwagon. Olapido would have been an odd choice because Dion. McLemore too for the same reason. Porter might have made sense too...but he was considered a high-floor, low ceiling player. Alex Len was an intriguing prospect at Center...but he's played 54 minutes this season. Just 7 games. There was some rumblings about Shabazz, but that would have been a major reach (though major reach doesn't mean worse than Bennett...so there is that.) We already had one Zeller brother...were we really going to go for Cody too...especially with his T-Rex arms? Ultimately, it is an ugly draft class. Almost anything would have failed here....though maybe not as epically bad as Bennett has to this point (and yes, he could still turn it around for you naysayers.)
So, ultimately, CG the Draft Guy hasn't been horrible. In fact, he's been (overall) quite good. He's drafted Kyrie, TT, Waiters, Zeller, Karasev (who I loved pre-draft as a late round guy), and Bennett. One blemish in the entire group...and he's a rookie blemish. Abysmal rookie blemish...but still...rookie. At the worst, he's the only really bad pick in the group...and it's not a horrible track record given how things look.
Chris Grant the Free Agent Signer is another topic of discussion. He initially signed Kyle Lowry (though Houston Matched the contract) Samardo Samuels, Manny Harris, Anthony Parker (resigned...and UGH), Donald Sloan, Lester Hudson (there was a thing with him...I swear it), Alonzo Gee, Shaun Livingston (Waiver Claim)CJ Miles, Michael Eric, Kevin Jones (UDFA), Earl Clark, Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and of course, Delly. Overall, most of those are minor signings. The CJ Miles signing has been rock solid for us. Earl Clark...he's had his ups and downs this season, but as a backup 3 and D stretch 4, he has found his mark. JJ has had a slow start...but he does that every season. Bynum's signing was solid gold...or at least, his contract was. It was key in landing us Luol Deng. All in all - he's not done horrible in this department.
His coaching hires...solid at the time...and likely the best we could have expected all things considered. Byron Scott was known as a guy who knew how to use a young PG. He had a fairly good track record. It just didn't work out. Did he get a really fair shake? Not necessarily. Mike Brown coming back...that seemed a headscratcher to everyone who weren't Cavs fans (and certainly to quite a few Cavs fans too). But, his presence has undeniably helped improve the team defense. There's a structure here. He has his weakness, but so does every coach except Gregg Popovich (who sold his soul for his Coaching/Developing skills.)
In the end, if you don't see Chris Grant as a plus GM, then you have to seriously work hard to convince me why. Because, all-in-all, I see a lot of very solid choices, shrewd moves and careful planning. Hopefully, as the season progresses, we start seeing longer/more win streaks and fewer/shorter losing streaks. Ultimately, I think that this is a team on the rise...and a key component to that...is Chris Grant, GM (General Magician).