Cavaliers

Dan Gilbert needs to abandon playoff goals for this season

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(Editor’s note: This was written prior to the Cavaliers firing of Chris Grant.)

I’m convinced that a major part of the reason that the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing the way they are is because they’ve been tanking for so long. Only Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao are left from the first awful season post-LeBron, but that ethic is alive and well. The Cavaliers have won 19, 21, and 24 games in the past three seasons. They are on target to win 26 or 27 this season based on their 0.327 win rate right now. (Progress!) Despite Dan Gilbert’s desire to “flip the switch” after this year’s draft lottery, his top-down message didn’t arrive in the locker room as the Cavaliers continue to embarrass themselves and their fans. I never thought I’d say it this season, but it’s time to stop pretending this team is worthy of betting on. I hope Dan Gilbert makes that painful choice soon.

Even scarier than Dan Gilbert’s message potentially being lost on its way to the roster, maybe it did get there, but this is just the level of team that Chris Grant has built. Obviously, building a basketball team is more than just amassing talented basketball players. Few doubt that many of the Cavaliers have talent, whether we’re talking about Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters or even Jarrett Jack. Even the players who have achieved a modicum of success come to this “team” as it’s constructed and fall off. The result is that Cavaliers fans end up being disappointed in everyone the Cavs bring in as they under-perform in Cleveland compared to what they could do elsewhere. The resulting shot to the ego of the entirety of the Cavaliers world is brutal.

There are no hard, fast rules to be gleaned here. The Cavs aren’t proof of, or emblematic of any singular philosophical conclusion.

Is the problem Chris Grant, Mike Brown, the roster or what? Yes.

Is it Kyrie Irving or Dion Waiters causing the problem? Yes.

Is it the talent on the roster not being good enough or it just not fitting together well? Yes.

Is it the tanking culture the Cavaliers created or the players they picked after getting high picks? Yes.

You see where I’m going with this. Right now, everything is a problem. The Cavaliers have a multi-level problem that has no easy answers. One thing that I’ve already said – and I’ll say it again as I borrow a phrase from Joe Banner – is that this isn’t something that just needs more time. That was one of the things that Banner said about their assessment of Rob Chudzinski was that simply giving him more time wasn’t going to make things better. The same is true of this entire Cavaliers team.

Chris Grant? Time won’t help him here. He probably shouldn’t be given the responsibility of fixing this mess. (Note: Grant won’t be given the responsibility of fixing this mess.) I rarely ever call for someone to be fired, and I still won’t today, but I’m guessing this is the conclusion that Dan Gilbert will come to soon.

Mike Brown? Time alone won’t help him fix this mess either, however, I think Mike Brown is a good coach despite some obvious limitations. We know for a fact that he works well with an offensive coordinator as he had with John Kuester, so however his staff needs to change, I’d aim for that. Also in Mike Brown’s favor (well, in favor of him keeping his job for now) this is a roster that has now failed to respond to two very different coaches. All the malaise that was present with Byron Scott is still present today. Mike Brown might be a bigger problem than I know today, but right now, seeing as he’s been here for only 47 games, I would wait.

The roster? Time won’t help them as they’re constructed, but I’m going to cop out here. I am not close enough to the team to decide exactly how it needs to be reshaped from the perspective of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. What I do know is that I am not keeping any veteran with an ounce of trade value. Luol Deng should get passed along again. Anderson Varejao too. C.J. Miles, Jarrett Jack, and even Earl Clark too if they can get anything for them should be gone. I’m against tanking, but this team didn’t tank. They “tried” their way to a 16-33 record. I just know it’s time to fold the hand for this season.

There are too many moving pieces in the NBA to get more specific than that. The only question in my mind right now is if Dan Gilbert trusts Chris Grant (He doesn’t.) to execute the strategy – whatever it may be – going forward. At least right now, we’re all still engaged enough to care to even talk about it. How much longer that continues to be the case remains to be seen.

(Image: @WFNYScott)

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    I read from someone in the comments section on another post that Deng can’t be traded this year. (some re-trade deadline?)

    Fire Mike Brown, trade as many of these guys as possible (Andy included), and start fresh. Let the interim GM and an assistant coach run out the rest of this disaster of a season.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    First the Browns now the Cavaliers, sigh! Indians you are our only hope. No pressure.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    mgbode said that in response to me saying I’d have Deng on the trade block. Unfortunate.

    I agree trade as many as you can the problem is unless it’s a new GM I don’t see an interim GM like David Griffin making sweeping changes. I’m still not sold on Gilbert firing Brown although at this point what’s the difference the damage has been done. Brown should have never been rehired period.

  • Robbie

    I believe he can be traded straight up. We can’t package him with anything in a deal.

  • Eric Mohr

    This article made less sense than the Cavaliers. That is really an impressive feat.

  • JNeids

    I suck at memes…

  • JNeids

    I suck at memes…

  • architrance

    I’m pretty sure he can’t be traded, except for a sign & trade after the season. It was something about us being over the cap when we acquired him and not being able to deal him for a minimum of 2 months. But the trade deadline comes before that.

  • architrance

    I’m pretty sure he can’t be traded, except for a sign & trade after the season. It was something about us being over the cap when we acquired him and not being able to deal him for a minimum of 2 months. But the trade deadline comes before that.

  • Pat Leonard

    How so?

  • Pat Leonard

    How so?

  • architrance

    Since the biggest crack ay Grant is his talent evaluation and failing to
    make the most of the team’s multiple recent high draft picks – I hope
    this means Gilbert is anticipating being at the top of the lotto again
    and not letting Grant mess it up.

  • MrCleaveland

    In Grant’s defense, except for Kyrie, there weren’t any no-brainers in the lottery when he picked. It was his bad luck to have high picks in thin drafts.

    But firing Grant does nothing to unpile this train wreck this year. I can’t see the players being inspired by this. (Of course, they apparently can’t get inspired by anything.)

    BTW, you think Hasgrum is pulling for Mike Brown to get the ax? If he does, it’ll make Chud look like Tom Landry.

  • Dave

    Why should we be at all concerned with the dregs of this roster not being inspired? The players I’d keep because they’re underrated and above average are: Andy, TT, CJ Miles, Deng, and Delladova. The rest can go.

    I don’t even think this is Mike Brown’s fault, given that Byron Scott did no better. I think it’s the fault of Chris Grant drafting bad and mediocre players. The organization that Cavs need to mimic in their drafting strategy is San Antonio, and until they learn to do it well they’re going to be the laughingstock they are now.

  • architrance

    Wow… what a turrible team that would be.

  • mgbode

    you are correct. he played a game for us, so he is no longer eligible to be traded. here’s the NBA CBA definition from Coon:

    For two months after receiving the player in trade, if the trade aggregates the player’s salary with the salaries of other players. However, the team is free to trade the player immediately, either by himself or without aggregating his salary with other salaries. This restriction applies only to teams over the salary cap. (Also see question number 87.)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!

  • cmm13

    “Dan Gilbert needs to abandon playoff goal for this season”
    …. uh, I think the players already took care of that for Dan.

  • maxfnmloans

    +1 informative

  • markn95

    If Nick Gilbert can get the Cavs a top 3 pick in this year’s Lottery, I say grab one of Parker/Wiggins/Embiid/Randle, make *that* guy our “NBA Superstar” (TM), and then open up the bidding for Kyrie. Maybe we can find a team in love with him enough that we net another top 5 pick and grab the next best of those 4, above, or even a guy like Smart or Okafor. And you’d still have Waiters, Thompson, and Bennett to parlay into either veteran pieces or even more high picks in this deep, deep Draft. That sounds a lot closer to the “OKC Plan” than anything the Cavs have done in the last 3.5 years.

    Call me crazy, but I’d do it in a heartbeat. It would spare the city of Cleveland another national “Decision”-like spectacle starring Kyrie this offseason or next. And it would also, in one fell swoop, solve the woeful chemistry issues this “team” has. And, best of all, it would set up a brand new 1-2 punch that this franchise could build around for the next decade!

  • cmm13

    Nobody is trading us a worthy veteran piece or high draft pick for Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson or Anthony Bennett.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Marcus Smart on line 2. Forget the OKC Plan there’s a reason it’s only happened once.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea no doubt.

  • mgbode

    that quickly, no. but, Chicago, Portland, and Indiana built in similar fashion. it just took longer.

  • cmm13

    “It was his bad luck to have high picks in thin drafts”

    I disagree here, Grant had been paid millions of dollars to be the General Manager of an NBA team.

    His main job was to be smart enough to find the talent that cohesively fits together in order to compete for an NBA championship no matter where he is drafting.

    He failed at his job, he’s fired. Simple as that.

    Totally agree on your other point that firing him now does not get the milk back in the bottle.

    But if you didn’t like the team he has built thus far do you trust him to make a trade at the deadline desperately needed to start the rebuild?

  • markn95

    Bennett’s a stretch, I agree. But under my proposal, we’d still have a “Big Three” of 2 of this Draft’s top 5 rookies and Deng. Even if we couldn’t trade Waiters or TT, they would still make good fourth and fifth fiddles, respectively. And, again, without Kyire to worry about, you’d have the cap flexibility to pick up the necessary quality vets through FA.

  • cmm13

    Perfect, taking longer to do anything well in sports is what we are best at here in Cleveland.

  • cmm13

    Why would a potential lottery bound team trade us their top 5 pick for a now known locker room issue, ball dominant point guard who doesn’t pass with a jump shot needing dedication to correcting in the offseason that he doesn’t want to put in instead of taking a more rounded player they can mold into their culture?

    I admire your zeal but your scenario exists in a bubble where Cleveland fans oftern overvalue our own players.

  • EyesAbove

    What is this years draft looking like?

  • markn95

    Lol, it’s one of those days. As for who would trade a top 5 pick for Kyrie, well, let’s hope the Knicks are in the top 5 because a move like that would be right up their alley! Or even the Lakers or Celtics, both of whom would be convinced they could keep Uncle Drew happy in their large markets.

    Or a team like Sacramento or Milwaukee who would be happy to sell mucho tickets and jerseys. 🙂

  • architrance

    I agree with cmm13 here. Also why trade Kyrie when you’ll likely have him under team control for 5 more years? Take one of those top draft picks and add it to this core (including Kyrie). You have two cornerstones in Irving and the new draft pick and a 5 year window before one leaves. And when he does leave we won’t be left high and dry with nothing, you’ll hopefully still have your “NBA Superstar.”

  • cmm13

    While I agree that the teams you mentioned could make a play for him; Wiggins, Parker and Randle (IMO) generate a much largerer buzz for their fan bases than taking on the mess that Kyrie has helped to create here.
    As weird as it is to say, Kyrie may have made himself more toxic with his childish antics here than help him move on.

  • architrance

    Only one of those teams – the Bucks have a worse record than the Cavs. The others will likely be in the 5-12 range. Your not getting a Superstar there (unless they win the lottery). And I see no reason why the Bucks would want to trade away the potential #1 overall pick in a great draft. Also – the Knicks don’t have a single draft pick this tear…

  • MrCleaveland

    You make a good point. It’s like what Paul Brown said to the driver of the team bus when he got lost: “I don’t blame you. I blame the man who hired you.”

  • Lunch

    As I expected, Craig, Dan Gilbert is ignoring your request to give up on the season.

    http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2014/02/dan_gilbert_says_this_is_the_m.html

  • Wow

    Spring Training can’t come soon enough.

  • mgbode

    only 4 more days without baseball 🙂