I wanted to take a few moments to look back at the series of events surrounding David Griffin’s departure from the Cavs and their attempt to hire Chauncey Billups. The way this all went down was unusual and is worth a closer look. I have taken the liberty of inserting my opinion at certain points throughout the timeline. Enjoy!
- June 16: After seven years with the organization, David Griffin parts ways with Cleveland Cavaliers. Owner Dan Gilbert confirmed that he was not going to renew Griffin’s contract, that expired on June 30. Griffin referred to their lack of “fit” going forward as the reason for his departure.
- June 20: Gilbert interviews Chauncey Billups for his team's general manager vacancy Tuesday afternoon in Detroit, sources told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. Billups, who currently works as an analyst for ESPN, has had a relationship with Gilbert for more than a decade. Billups endorsed Rock Financial, Gilbert's Detroit-based mortgage company, when the former NBA point guard was a member of the Pistons.
- June 21: Gilbert continues conversations with Billups on Wednesday regarding the team's general manager vacancy, according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman. The two spend all day Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena, where Billups is introduced to a number of the executives who would be working under him, one source with knowledge of the meeting told The Athletic. Gilbert extends an five-year offer to be the team President of Basketball operations.
This is presumably when Gilbert offered the recently reported initial offer of $1.5 million a year. First of all, for somebody that he has known longer than a decade and has respect for, what a slap in the face. After the offer was presented to Billups and he left the building without signing, Gilbert needed to start setting up other interviews right away. Unless Gilbert’s plan B is Koby Altman and that doesn’t appear to be the case considering he hasn’t at least named him the interim GM, it becomes clear he isn’t really sure about anything. He makes a ridiculously low offer to a guy that he is close with and he leaves after two full days without signing, then he may never sign. As the Owner you have to be prepared for that.
The deal should have been done right here and if Gilbert wanted it done, he makes a legit offer. The shocking part is that in every way, it seems as though Gilbert thought he would eventually take the position. Of all people, I would expect him to understand the ramifications of not sealing this thing right here, as well as coming in with such a low offer and having no leverage. The NBA Draft is the next night, you let Griffin walk and then you come weak with the offer on your only target? Things look totally different if Billups signs on the 21st after spending two full days with Gilbert. At least the optics are much better in regards to your organization, which actually does matter, because you are going to half to talk ring-chasing veterans into taking the minimum in Cleveland.
- June 22: The night of the 2017 NBA Draft
- June 25: According to Adrian Wojarnowski of The Vertical, talks are still ongoing but there is "no immediate resolution expected."
If you listened to the Richard Hamilton interview on 92.3 The Fan, it certainly sounded like Billups had wanted this position for sometime. So you start asking yourself, what is the hold up? If the hold up actually was his family and ESPN, then Billups respectfully declines the job right here. He’s had some time to think on it, trade talks are in full swing and free agency is around the corner. If he needed time to talk it over and he wants the job, then he has to tell Gilbert what he wants paid and that he needs to get to work preparing for free agency. He can’t miss anymore time. If he has any reservations, then out of respect for Gilbert and the organization’s ability to function at the highest level, he has to be out. Now, the money makes this whole things tricky. Gilbert is a wild card and who knows what he says about the money but as his only candidate he needs to make the money right.
On the same day, the Cavs were reportedly involved in discussions for Paul George:
- June 27: Chauncey Billups still in negotiations with Dan Gilbert and the Cavs, source told ESPN. Counter-offered yesterday; now it's in Gilbert's court.
Ok, so now we know he wants the job, right? A counter-offer? I was shocked when this report came out. It’s not often that we hear about the candidate for a professional sports position making a counter-offer. He has to really want the job to do this. He is giving away leverage and showing Gilbert his price. The deal should be done for the third time right here.
- June 30: Paul George gets traded, but not to the Cavs.
- July 1: Free Agency begins. The Cavaliers and veteran free-agent point guard Jose Calderon have agreed to a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum, sources told Cleveland.com.
- July 2: The Cavs come to terms on a three-year, $22 million contract with free agent Kyle Korver, sources told ESPN.com.
Well, two deals have been negotiated and still nothing from either side. Even worse, not even a rumor of another candidate for the job.
On the same day, Billups debuted in the BIG3 basketball league. HoopsHype's Alex Kennedy reported Sunday morning Billups is continuing to weigh whether he'll accept the Cavs’ GM job despite playing in the BIG3.
This is when you know things have gone completely sideways. Billups is back playing with the “Killer 3’s” in the BIG3 league. He isn’t going to take the job, too much time has passed and he is honoring other commitments that he wouldn’t be if he were still really mulling over the offer. I think the only reason Billups hasn’t officially pulled his name at this point is because he really wants the job, but just can’t take it because Gilbert’s offer is unreasonable.
- July 4: Chauncey Billups pulls his name from consideration to head the Cavaliers' front office, even though he was positioning for the job weeks before it was vacant. Billups has this to say, “I have great respect for Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I greatly appreciate the discussions we had regarding their organization,” Billups told ESPN. “As I have conveyed before, ultimately I would like to lead a team’s basketball operation and be a part of a successful franchise. But presently, the timing just isn’t right to delve into that role in Cleveland. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on broadcasting and my other business endeavors.”
- July 6: Reports surface saying that according to sources, the team's initial offer was $1.5 million and later raised it to $2 million. League sources told ESPN that $4 million is typically the starting point of what an individual in that role should earn.
There are no other candidates, the front office has continued to function throughout the Draft and free agency process. Hire Koby Altman and put this saga to bed. It’s the only way to go from here. The reports of low-balling Billups, make it nearly impossible to generate any interest from candidates that are qualified for the position. The terrain down that road only gets rockier. Hire Altman, say he was “Plan B” and start turning some of your “way too old” roster over.
Finally, the perception of the organization, whether it’s true or not has been damaged by all of this. It is time to make an appearance and speak to some of this. Standing in front of a microphone and explaining what has happened and what going to happen would help steady the ship. The lack communication from the Cavs is only allowing for speculation to run wild. A press conference when you hire Koby Altman would be ideal, preferably yesterday.