If anyone should be thrilled with the ascendance of David Griffin to the role of General Manager, it should be me. Or you, I don't know, maybe you have a solid relationship with the guy or have a stake in his success. I don't, outside of the fact that his success would mean that my favorite basketball team had good things happening.
Griffin comes from a school of basketball thinking on something approaching the cutting edge of offensive strategy in the NBA. His Phoenix background speaks to a preference for pace and three point shooting. Pace is generally well thought of as it doesn't allow the defense to get settled for what tend to be predictable set patterns of offense. Three pointers are thought to be good because, hey, you get an extra point when you make them. A good example of this is the Philadelphia 76ers. They were awful because they had awful players that were really young, but they pushed the pace and allowed guys like Michael Carter-Williams to launch up threes. The philosophy was there, there just wasn't anything to execute it.
And aside from that, Griffin has continuously preached the need for pieces that fit. In general, I have wanted the Cavaliers to embrace these principles for a very long time. The Cavaliers front office has for some time indicated that they were not interested in building around Kyrie Irving, but merely with Kyrie Irving. The first draft choice the Cavaliers made after Irving was an unskilled undersized big. The first draft choice the Cavaliers made after Irving's Rookie of the Year campaign was a ball dominant guard. The first free agent that the Cavaliers invested significant money in long term after drafting Kyrie Irving was a ball dominant guard.
We know all this. And it seems like David Griffin does too. At his press conference yesterday, he outlined what he was looking for as he puts his mark on the team:
"As we talked about the end of season meeting ... we need to be bigger, we need to be smarter from a basketball IQ standpoint, I'd like us to be a team that's recognized as being tougher, I'd like us to be a better shooting team, and we need to address our fit. If anything our commitment to those things are strengthened."
He commented a bit on the state of the roster:
"I think the fit of our roster needs to be pieces that make sense, you know we've got ball-dominant drive and kick creators, we need to be able to open the floor for them. We also need a little bit more ability to play from the inside out, to make our team a little more balanced ... I think we have very, very good talent."
All of this stuff mirrors exactly what I've been trying to say and argue for a couple years now. Except maybe it doesn't. Many on Twitter and in our comments have speculated on what all this could mean for Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. The short answer is that we have no clue.
We have suffered through and over-analyzed and at times genuinely enjoyed two years of Waiters. Some of us have done the same with Thompson. I have no idea what either player becomes. Maybe both are destined to be bench players. Maybe they are both starters, perhaps even good ones. One just recently turned 23, the other is 22. We have put the time in cheering for these players through tough years. Wouldn't it be awful to see them turn the corner somewhere else?
Maybe you don't see it happening for Thompson. That's fine. He's a frustrating player. But he makes $5.1 million next year and I'm totally fine paying my third big that kind of money. There's a good chance he ends up being worth more than that. And if you can get something back in a package that's really good, hey, thanks for your time here Tristan and we wish you the best.
Same goes for Dion. Are these guys perfect fits with Kyrie Irving? No, but in Dion's case you have an ultra-talented guy who grew a lot defensively and increased his three point shooting percentage by quite a bit. If you follow the Miami Heat plan (they tend to stagger LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's minutes) you can maximize the benefits of having two talented ball handlers.
Ultimately, my problems with Chris Grant were tied more to his failures in free agency, and, maybe, the Anthony Bennett pick. I think you can draft Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson, let them learn and grow up together, and add the pieces around them that fit. It would have helped if Thompson had a role more similar to Tyler Zeller's where he could have spent more time developing by coming off the bench. Maybe David Griffin feels this way, and it's why he was interested in Spencer Hawes as a shooter to put next to Thompson. Maybe he believes in Thompson's developing jump shot. Maybe he is excited about Kyrie and Dion together as creators.
Sometimes I have felt like one of the only guys who genuinely likes Irving, Thompson, and Waiters. Did I waiver with the rumors that Waiters was unhappy or being a malcontent or open to being traded? Sure. But these are the guys I have seen and wanted to watch the most the last couple years. I'd love to see the Cavs be successful with each of them.
"If I gave you the impression I think this mix is the right mix that's not what I intend to say. I believe we have the right assets to find the right mix. We have everything we're going to need to make a run at the pieces we do need. There certainly are some pieces that don't fit on this roster."
I think Griffin is the right man for the job. I think the Cavaliers are headed in the right direction. But I have a feeling a couple of the moves that get things going might just bum me out a little bit. That's okay, because ultimately the goal is to win games, and perhaps one day a championship.
"I feel a great opportunity This is a golden opportunity. If this had been a perfect situation I wouldn't be sitting in front of you."