The Cavaliers are a dumpster fire mixed with a train wreck. Watching this team has the same mind-numbing effects on one's senses that the Kardashians do. It makes you want to claw your eyeballs out, stab your ears with an icepick, and then be repeatedly punched directly in the nose by a mixed martial arts fighter.
So who does the blame fall on for all of this? The players are certainly responsible for a part of it. They're playing awfully, and sometimes with much effort. Coaches also deserve a part of the responsibility, as their inability to make adjustments mid-game have been maddening. But who brought this mishmash of disaster together? While many in the front office need to be held accountable, it ultimately falls upon one man:
The general manager for the Cavaliers has been alternately praised and incredulously questioned for his moves assembling this roster. Let's start at the beginning, and try to figure out what brought the Cavaliers to this point. I've created a timeline that outlines all of Grant's moves since that fateful day in 2010 when he became the Cavaliers' hapless and fearless leader.
Grant hired, starts rebuild
June 4, 2010: Cavaliers name Chris Grant general manager. The 38-year-old had already been in NBA front offices for 14 years by that point, spending his first nine years in Atlanta and then five years in Cleveland under Danny Ferry as assistant general manager. He was well-respected enough as a basketball mind that he was offered the Hawks general manager job in 2010, but turned it down. While he was somewhat undersold by the time he was let go, Ferry had finished second in Executive of the Year voting in the previous two years to his departure. Owner Dan Gilbert was somewhat concerned that Ferry's hard-headed negotiating style could prove problematic in the upcoming negotiations with LeBron James. Grant's first tasks? Replace recently departed coach Mike Brown and attempt to re-sign James.
June 24, 2010: NBA Draft, Cavaliers have no selections due to the trades for Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O'Neal. It's worth mentioning that very few players past pick 20 have distinguished themselves in the NBA, so trading back into this draft most likely would have been fruitless.
July 2, 2010: Byron Scott is hired as head coach. Seemingly Brian Shaw comes in second place for the job. It was hailed at the time as an excellent hire for a team with an uncertain future. Grant's comments at the time?
"Byron's combination of high-level success and depth of experience, both as a head coach and as a player, is a tremendous asset for our organization," Grant said in a statement. "He is a strong leader with a proven track record of winning in both the regular season and the playoffs. We're confident Coach Scott will positively impact the strong culture we have put in place here in Cleveland over the past five years."
Well, at least some of those things proved to be true.
July 8, 2010: The Decision. Cleveland burns to the ground. Jersey burning. Couches on fire. Death to infidels. The normal angry fan stuff.
July 10, 2010: Grant does well to sign-and-trade James to Miami, procuring 2011 and 2012 second round picks, a 2013 first round pick, and a future first that still hasn't transferred. The Cavs also got the option to swap first rounders in 2012 but LOL.
July 21, 2010: Grant makes his first real move as general manager, signing Samardo Samuels. Samuels was a beacon of hope for a downtrodden franchise. A true champion for the masses. The reason for this is that his own personal mass had exceeded what should be legally be allowed on a basketball court.
July 26, 2010: Grant's first trade as a general manager occurs, and it's something that should be considered nothing less than an unmitigated success. Okay, maybe that's taking it too far considering it brought "Ryan Hollins' explosive leaping ability" to Cleveland. But still, it was awesome! The Cavaliers traded Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota for Ramon Sessions, Hollins, and a 2013 second round pick. Delonte was quickly waived because of legal and mental health issues, and Sessions played well during his time with the Cavs before being moved again. Plus, MOAR PICKS!
(this will become a trend with Grant)
July 30, 2010: Grant signs Joey Graham. Graham was pretty much a culture signing, according to Grant:
"We're excited to add Joey to our roster. He adds a tough, veteran presence on the perimeter that will complement the pieces we have in place," said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant. "With his strong work ethic and discipline, we feel he is a great match with the culture we have built and continue to build."
Graham played 39 games in during the 2010-11 season, and was never heard from again in the NBA until he was cut by the Cavaliers on December 9, 2011.
September 25, 2010: The Cavaliers fill out their roster with Corperryale L'Adorable Harris (also known as "Manny") and Cedric Jackson. These moves meant nothing in the grand scheme of anything, but anytime I can write Manny Harris's full name out, I take it.
December 28, 2010: Grant mines the D-League and signs former Alabama star Alonzo Gee, who had performed well in short stints with the Wizards and Spurs. Gee has, despite his faults as a player, been a steady performer for the Cavaliers for three years at a low cost. Anytime you can get 160 games started out of a guy you essentially got for free, it's an awesome signing.
February 24, 2011: This was an extremely important day in Cavalier history, involving two trades. First, the Cavs traded the second round pick they acquired from the Timberwolves for Luke Harangody and Semih Erden. Harangody's tenure with the Cavaliers brought us moments like this (and this. And this. Plus this). In the grand scheme, this trade meant nothing. That pick eventually became Jeff Withey this past draft.
The more important move was the infamous Cavaliers-Clippers trade. Here, Grant used his magisterial Jedi mind-trick trade powers to convince Neil Olshey (read: Donald Sterling cost cutting measure) to give him an unprotected 2011 first round pick along with Baron Davis for Jamario Moon and Mo Williams. People forget that Davis was still seen at that point as a semi-valuable -- albeit overpaid -- player for the Clippers. He had a 16.3 PER at that point (mostly that high because of usage. He was shooting 42%), and was just starting to get acclimated to playing with rookie Blake Griffin. The Cavs made the trade for the pick, as the team said afterward, but Davis wasn't worthless. It was a dumbfounding move at the time. It's probably a trade the Clippers make again because that cap savings laid the groundwork for the Chris Paul deal later that offseason, but it's also one the Cavaliers will never forget for reasons we'll get to in a second. Excellent work by Grant to take advantage of a team needing to save money.
2011 season: Disaster. Train wreck. Twenty-six game losing streak. Nineteen wins. Fifty-seven points in an NBA game.
May 19, 2011: The Cavaliers win the draft lottery behind Nick Gilbert's telekinesis and the Clippers' draft pick, which only had a 2.8 percent chance of winning. The Cavaliers' pick ends up with the fourth selection, making Cleveland the first team with two top four picks in an NBA draft since Chicago in 2001.
June 23, 2011: The Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick instead of Derrick Williams. This decision wasn't necessarily a shoo-in, according to Jason Lloyd. Scouts, "experts," and Sports Guys made cases for Williams, but in the end most respected draft people had Irving over Williams. Not screwing up this pick was extremely important to where the franchise stands today.
With the fourth pick, the Cavaliers went slightly outside the box. With Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas sitting there -- the pick projected by both Jon Givony and Chad Ford -- the Cavaliers opted to select power forward Tristan Thompson. Grant called it a "very easy pick" at the time, which is fascinating in and of itself. Jason Lloyd said that the Cavs "had been high on Valanciunas all along, but wanted to know the terms of the buyout of his European contract before drafting him." Maybe it did become an easy selection once they had decided to not to draft Valanciunas. It's also worth noting that Thompson really wasn't a massive reach based on value. He had been projected at 7th and 8th by the Ford and Givony mocks, and was a steady riser throughout the process.
Regardless of the situation surrounding it, the pick has turned out okay to this point. Valanciunas has been better than Thompson this season, but it hasn't been by a landslide. The Cavs would probably be better off going into the future as far as the way their roster is currently constructed had they selected Valanciunas. But by itself, and with a roster at that was essentially barren of core pieces at the time, this pick is and continues to be defensible. It's in conjunction with the rest of Grant's moves that it becomes murkier.
The Cavs second round still hasn't paid dividends for the team yet. They traded the 32nd overall pick (Justin Harper, who happened to play on their summer league roster this team) to Oralndo for two future seconds (MOAR SECONDS). The first one of those was the second rounder they traded in 2013 draft for two future seconds. With their other second rounder, the 54th pick, the Cavaliers selected Milan Macvan, who could most notably be described as having an oddly shaped head.
June 30, 2011: Grant disavows himself of Ferry's J.J. Hickson selection in a move for Omri Casspi and a future first round pick. Hickson had posted 15+ PER seasons prior to being traded, but had shown no development defensively and was beginning to show the aberrant and immature behavior that got him into hot water last season. Casspi was pretty clearly a worse player at that point, but the first rounder more than made up for their difference. Again, a solid trade from Grant that ultimately led to another move.
Roster building continues, assets accumulate, questions arise
2011-12 offseason/early: That was the last move Grant would make. The league went into lockout mode, but the Cavaliers decided that pretty much they were going to roll with what brought them. Which entailed this roster:
Really though, that could be a worse rotation for a team essentially trying to tank and bottom out again. But then, the following things happened: Antawn Jamison fell off a cliff, Anderson Varejao got hurt, Daniel Gibson got hurt, Anthony Parker missed 15 games, Casspi Casspi'd, Ryan Hollins got waived, Irving got knicked up at the end of the season and then...
March 20, 2012: Grant traded Ramon Sessions Christian Eyenga, beautiful prince, for Jason Kapono, Luke Walton, and two first round picks. Yes, the Lakers gave the Cavaliers two first round picks for Sessions in order to get rid of salary. That really happened. The Cavaliers used these picks for a lot of different maneuvering, and the protections on the 2013 pick were so odd that I needed to write a mystery detective post to figure it out. But yeah, this is obviously a win, plus it gave us a season and a half of the Luke Walton-Cavaliers era. This led to Zach Lowe creating the Luke Walton All-Stars, which is just a fantastic set of ridiculousness.
Rest of 2012 season: Because of all the injuries and moves listed above, here is how the Cavaliers' roster looked to end the season:
Look at those beautiful combined stats for Jamison and Lester Hudson! This came in a 39 point loss to the Pistons. The Pistons were 23-38 at the time, so yeah, the Cavs were really bad. But that's fine! The team needed to bottom out again, and needed to continue to get more talent. Grant's moves to accumulate assets for further maneuvering and talent acquisition were fantastic to this point. So far during his tenure, Grant had grabbed three extra second rounders, and a whopping five extra firsts, including the Irving pick. The rebuild was right on track.
May 30, 2012: The lottery does not treat the Cavaliers as well this time around. With the third-worst record in the NBA, the Cavaliers end up with the fourth overall pick as the New Orleans Hornets slide up from fourth into the top pick, where the clear prize is Anthony Davis, the obvious and unanimous #1 pick.
June 28, 2012 (part one): The draft is Thursday. The Cavaliers apparently attempt to maneuver a trade for the second overall pick in order to select either Bradley Beal or more likely Michael Kidd Gilchrist. The Wizards then select Beal, which in theory leaves the Cavaliers in their doomsday scenario. The Cavaliers select Dion Waiters, surprising everyone.
So what happened and how did this happen? Let's go to the now famous Brian Windhorst article after the draft. Some things mentioned here, all of which will be paraphrased and can be read in completion in the above link:
- The two names at the top of the Cavaliers' list going into Thursday night were apparently Kidd-Gilchrist and Waiters, despite the fact that the team was also high on Harrison Barnes and Beal.
- Waiters DID NOT come to Cleveland for a private workout or meeting, most likely because he had a promise at pick 13 by the Suns -- although this has not been confirmed. The Cavaliers' director of college personnel, Trent Redden had been to Syracuse several times to gather information on Waiters. The Cavaliers talked extensively with the coaching staff about him.
- Byron Scott had "fallen in love with Waiters' ability after watching plenty of film."
- The team worked the phone lines, and no talks ever got terribly serious. The Cavs believed that the Bobcats would most likely take one of Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson, most likely Kidd-Gilchrist.
- Cavs take Waiters, who Grant "just couldn't get out of his head."
So let's deal try to unpack some of this info. The Cavaliers pick Waiters after not meeting with him, which obviously is an issue. I don't think I've ever heard a story of a top five pick not meeting with his prospective team outside of this one. Please correct me if I'm wrong there. Given his attitudinal problems and fit, it seems that a meeting may have helped the Cavaliers better understand what they were getting into.
Waiters was a riser throughout the draft process, and Givony had him at 7th in his final mock draft. Ford had Waiters 7th in his top 100 prospects. Like Thompson, this was a slight value reach based on the public information out there, but not one of epic proportions. And looking back, Waiters has performed pretty well in comparison to the rest of the possibilities for this pick in a vacuum. Barnes has taken a clear step back in his second season, Kidd-Gilchrist still is a work in progress due to his jump shot struggles, and Robinson has been dealt twice already. Point guard Damian Lillard was likely never a consideration for the Cavaliers after taking Irving the year before (although one wonders now if his ability to shoot the ball would have fit better with Irving than Waiters anyway).
The only prospect that is both better than Waiters now AND was a potential choice is Andre Drummond, but Drummond had question marks engulfing him like flames in a burning building. Did he actually like basketball? Was his middling production the result of bad guard play at Connecticut? Were his problems coachable? It's not as cut and dry as saying that he was an easy pick, and he may not have developed nearly as quickly had he been selected by the Cavaliers. But missing out on both Drummond and Valanciunas in consecutive drafts in order to draft somewhat undersized players could be part of the reason the Cavaliers have spent the past two seasons among the worst in the NBA in field-goal percentage at the rim against. The Cavaliers brought him in for a workout, so he was clearly on their radar. They just missed on him, like the six other teams that didn't end up with all-stars in Lillard or Davis.
I love Dion Waiters. I think he's going to be a really good NBA player sooner rather than later. I even think he's much closer to Beal as a player than he gets credit for being. But it is possible to say that the Cavaliers drafted a good player, and ultimately made the wrong pick. From not meeting with him beforehand and improperly measuring the desire to have a second ball-handler with Irving, the Cavaliers and Grant made a mistake that still has reverberations.
June 30, 2012 (part two): Oh hey, the Cavaliers still have three more picks! Well, they took care of that quickly by trading all three picks (24, 33, 34) for pick #17 in order to select Tyler Zeller. Zeller was a potential late lottery pick that was falling, so the Cavaliers decided to use their picks in order to scoop up the guy they wanted. Smart move. Zeller was a bit rough last season (although still 2nd-team All-Rookie), but added strength in the offseason and looks to be a cheap rotation big for the future.
July 20, 2012: The Cavs sign Jon Leuer, an unrestricted free agent that had inexplicably been cut twice. This will be important later. An excellent signing by Grant, who has proven adept at mining the dregs of free agency for value.
August 8. 2012: C.J. Miles is signed for two years, $4.5 million. This is the best free agent signing Grant has made. Miles has given the team excellent value mostly off the bench, averaging 18.6 points with 4.6 rebounds per 36 with 39% three-point shooting, a 55.3% true-shooting percentage, and a PER of 15.4. Plus, he's excellent in the locker room, on Twitter, and raps. That's easily gotta be worth the mid-level exception, right?
December 25, 2012: A Christmas miracle as Shaun Livingston signs with the Cavs. He re-shapes his career in Cleveland, forms an improbable pick-and-roll pairing with Luke Walton, and moves on after the season. Good for him, glad he's back in the NBA.
January 22, 2013: The Jon Leuer trade. With the Grizzlies right up against the luxury tax line and an owner that didn't want to pay it, the Cavaliers use their excess salary cap space to trade for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby, and a future first round pick. The Cavaliers not only acquire some veterans to stabilize what was at the time the league's second-worst bench, but also a first round pick that still hasn't transferred yet. The best part of it is that it has potential to be a mid-late lottery pick as the Grizzlies core ages. This represents the final good move that Chris Grant has made as Cavaliers' general manager.
2013 season: The Cavaliers' season goes worse than expected due to injury. Varejao again gets hurt, and then suffers a nasty blood clot. Irving misses nearly 25 games, and Waiters 21 games. With a complete and utter lack of depth until the Leuer trade, the Cavaliers struggle out of the gate until February, go on a slight run after the trade, then fade into oblivion after further injury. Throughout this entire time, the specter of James returning to Cleveland continues to permeate the roster moves, with only $4 million guaranteed to Anderson Varejao on the entire roster outside of their rookie deals. Worse yet, Grant still hadn't turned any of those draft picks that he had acquired into tangible assets. The Cavs' roster was in a good place, but clearly couldn't compete yet.
Worse yet, Waiters and Irving struggle while together on the floor, and it seems Cavaliers' fans worst fears with the Waiters' pick might be true. However, Thompson develops further on both ends, giving Cavaliers' fans hope. Unfortunately, that development doesn't lead to more wins. The Cavs' locker room seems to have tuned out Scott. The defensive efficiency never leaves the bottom five. They stumble to a 24-58 record, or only a five win improvement since their disaster 2011 season. Scott is fired. Going back to Grant's comments upon hiring Scott, I think it's fair to say he did not improve upon the Cavs' culture, and was not a tremendous asset to the organization.
April 23, 2013: The Cavaliers move quickly and hire Mike Brown. They don't interview another candidate, although they do reach out to Mike Krzyzewski and Phil Jackson. Because why not try to get the two best coaches alive. It's a polarizing move. Some point to Brown's track record and excellent winning percentage as a head coach. Others point to his lack of offensive creativity. Most try to make judgments on whether or not he can bring James back to Cleveland, but no one actually knows the answer. As we'll get to soon enough, these questions work themselves out in his first season.
May 21, 2013: Nick Gilbert continues to secretly attend Hogwarts and make the lottery balls fall in the Cavaliers favor. They win the lottery, and get to add another top pick into the mix. Also, Machine Gun Kelly attends. Because, as you know, anytime you can get a semi-famous rap star to make an influence on your son, you gotta do it.
(just kidding. Love you, MGK)
June 27, 2013: For the third consecutive draft, the Cavaliers buck conventional wisdom and select Anthony Bennett, an undersized/oversized power forward out of UNLV. Ford has Bennett ranked fourth in his top 100, and Givony projects Bennett to go 8th pre-draft. Bill Simmons has his first mild freakout on television. This pick literally came out of left field. It wasn't a fit on their roster and they were barely connected to him pre-draft. So, what happened here? Let's start with what Grant said post-draft:
"As we did our evaluations throughout the entire year, we just kept coming back to his ability and his talent and how it fit with our guys," Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. "A lot of times, like last year, it's just clear cut. But for us, through the year, we always had him very high in our rankings and as we went back and reviewed the film and went on campus and visited everybody, we came away saying he's a great kid. He's willing to work and do the right things and he's got a bunch of talent."
Okay, fair enough. It makes me question the scouting system and direction in Cleveland and it's not what I would have done, but okay. You got your guy. What else did he say?
"A lot of guys in this draft were out for medical reasons, but at the end of the day we just felt like this was the right guy to add with all the talent he has," Grant said. "You put him in a pick and roll with Dion or Kyrie, he's going to be pretty difficult to guard because he can shoot the ball and is athletic and can handle the ball and get to the rim."
Uhh, what? He was barely utilized in the pick-and-roll in college. Rarely utilized in the pick-and-pop. He was and is an awful screener that left his mark too early and made too little contact with the defender. He's agile for a big man, sure. But screening is the actual first important step of this, which meant that he needed to improve there. He...uhh...hasnt. The projectable skill was there for Bennett to be a fine pick-and-roll player, but that's not why you take Bennett. Where Bennett was best in college was as a face-up, who played an awful lot like Carmelo Anthony, just bigger. He attacked the rim well, but also tended to settle too easily for jumpers.
Then comes the fact that, again, the Cavaliers had passed on their franchise center. This time, Nerlens Noel was the projected top pick all along. He was injured, but so was Bennett. Then there's the whole roster fit thing. The Cavaliers had already taken a power forward two years prior in Thompson, who was coming off of a season where he showed a lot of development. If the Cavaliers thought that Bennett could be a potential answer at the three, that's an absolute blunder. I don't think that Bennett is as bad as we've seen so far, but ultimately what it comes down to is that there were clear better options on the board, and the Cavs tried to outsmart themselves again.
With the second pick, they selected Sergey Karasev out of Russia. Karasev is a project. I think they would have been better off taking someone else, and that Karasev doesn't particularly look like an NBA athlete, but it's way too difficult to tell. He's young and it's his first year in the country. It's a tough spot. The Cavs dealt their first second round pick to Portland, and picked Carrick Felix with their second rounder. I don't think Felix is an NBA player unless he gets a jump shot, but ultimately all second rounders are flawed. Just take the guy that you like and pray. I wouldn't have taken Felix (Jamaal Franklin or C.J. Leslie probably for me), but it's hard to fault Grant for taking him.
July 12, 2013: Cavaliers sign Jarrett Jack. The signing didn't make sense at the time. He's a ball-dominant scoring guard that doesn't play defense. The Cavs already had two of those guys in Waiters and Irving. Jack does nothing to give the Cavaliers a different look. They give him three guaranteed years for $19 million with an unguaranteed year at $6.3 million. Because why not. Hello, more roster redundancy. They now have three players that need the ball in their hands constantly, and two 20 year old power forwards that need to play minutes to develop. Awesome roster building here.
The Cavaliers also finalized their deal with Earl Clark on the 12th. It's basically a one year deal for $4.5 million. Brown likes him. It's pretty much a no lose signing. Clark hasn't particularly worked out, but whatever. It's a one year deal. The Cavs could have in theory allocated that cap space better this season, but they probably wouldn't have been able to find a taker on a one year deal better than Clark -- because again, keeping cap space open for James was important. Here's what Grant said on the signings:
"Earl and Jarrett are both tough, competitive, team-first players that have the ability to impact the game on both ends of the court," General Manager Chris Grant said from Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Well, one of those things is patently false. Jack is an awful defensive player. But hey, veteran leadership. Important on this team of young guys.
"We have good momentum," he said. "We're very happy with where we are. I wouldn't say everything is perfect but we're very happy with the progress we have made."
He added, "We went into this offseason and we wanted to add leadership, we wanted to add toughness, we wanted to add playoff experience and we wanted to add guys that could complement the culture and foundation that we already have in place and continue to build upon."
You see, here's the thing. You can't say that you want to complement the culture and foundation already in place. The culture for this team had been three consecutive years of averaging 21 wins per season. The team had possibly just quit on their head coach, so you had to fire him and bring in a new one. The star player just decided that he could skip fan appreciation night. None of the roster pieces made sense when you add them together. If these were Kevin Garnett's burritos, they would have tasted like a used diaper filled with Indian food. This culture you had built, it was a losing culture. The fact that you think this was working is part of the problem and it led to this:
July 19, 2013: Andrew Bynum is signed. It was viewed at the time as a low risk signing. I certainly thought it was. It was a unique contract that only guaranteed him $6 million. If he didn't come back or didn't play well, it wouldn't matter. They'd just cut him.
But then you really think about it. What if he came back and was average? What if his attitude hurt the team? Bynum doesn't at all fit into Mike Brown's preferred defensive scheme which involves big men having to hedge hard on perimeter screens, which you knew already because Mike Brown has coached 400+ NBA games. Plus, GRANT JUST MENTIONED SEVEN DAYS AGO HE WANTED TO IMPROVE THE CULTURE AND FOUNDATION OF THE TEAM.
Sure, just keep strengthening the foundation of this team by adding a guy who got re-injured while rehabbing when he went bowling, got thrown out of an out-of-reach playoff game for a clothesline, and kind of likes basketball intermittently. We know how the story ends now: he gets suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, goes away, and the Cavs traded him.
This is a rather remarkable offseason. Literally not one of the six new roster players that Grant brought in has had a positive impact. And most of it was avoidable! Not one of these players fit schematically with Mike Brown except Felix. Brown likes wings that can defend with agility. Karasev certainly doesn't fit that. Brown likes mobile, solid defensive bigs: Bynum and Bennett don't fit that at all. Brown's offenses tended to end with isolation and a lack of creativity: bring in Jack, one of the biggest floor pounders with the rock in the league.
Plus, only Bynum at least somewhat filled a need of the roster, in that he was a center that could protect the rim. But anyone else? Jack? Nope. Clark? Another tweener. Bennett? Have Thompson. Karasev? A 19 year old that probably wasn't ever going to make an immediate impact as a shooter (there were guys that potentially could in the draft available, including Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock).
We all know how this has ended. Matthew Dellavedova was signed as an undrafted free agent for a team with three draft picks, and he's been the best out of all of them. Grant finally made something out of the picks he's been hoarding, trading one of the firsts for Luol Deng. The team has fallen off a cliff since then, and is in the midst of a five game losing streak. And the locker room? It's never been in more disarray. That culture that Grant talked about building has collapsed under its own weight like a black hole that is forming next to Lake Erie. Waiters isn't particularly liked in the locker room. Irving is losing the locker room. Deng isn't happy. Mike Brown has lost the locker room.
And all of those trades that Grant has made? The ones that look good from a value perspective but haven't translated to wins? Are those more Grant's doing, or are they the owner Gilbert's doing, being willing to absorb money? None of these moves would have been possible if it wasn't for Gilbert's insatiable desire to win games - sometimes even at the hindrance of the team. The Clippers deal that garnered Grant his prized point guard happened because Gilbert let him take on money in Baron Davis. The Grizzlies deal happened because Gilbert allowed him to take on the Grizzlies contracts. Both of those were no brainer deals to get easy first round picks. Grant deserves a modicum of credit for going out and getting them done. But in reality, are they that impressive?
There is blame to go around everywhere here. But if you want to know where to look to start, just look at the top. Look at the man who brought this group of players together in a way that doesn't make sense. The one continually proved an inability to construct a roster that made sense. The one who preached culture above all else, then brought together a losing one: