COMMENTARY | The life of NBA general managers is an arduous one.
Their job is to predict the future, and after a few years, fans and fellow colleagues become able to blatantly judge them on their decisions. They lay their livelihoods on the table for everyone to see.
It's pretty clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers were extremely embarrassed by the whooping that the infamously short-handed Los Angeles Lakers gave them on Wednesday night, and it proved to be the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
They needed to make a change, fast.
They couldn't get rid of Mike Brown and his enormous four-year, $20 million contract, although that move would have been justified. They also couldn't fire Dan Gilbert, because, well, he owns the team.
What they could do was fire GM Chris Grant, thanks in large part to his expiring contract. And they did precisely that.
He didn't deserve it -- the Cavs' roster still looks pretty good on paper. But it was the easiest move the Cavs could make to show their fans that the organization is also displeased about what's happening.
And what's happening is absurd.
The Cavaliers have lost five straight games by double-digits. Brown clearly doesn't know how to handle this roster. Cleveland is a disgustingly disappointing 16-34 on the season, and a lot of the blame is starting to fall on Kyrie Irving. That shouldn't happen.
The calls to trade the famed point guard are misguided. The problem isn't him; he's only 21 years old. The problem is with the entire franchise. The Cavs strongly remind me of another Ohio-based franchise with a different Mike Brown in a leadership role: The Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams have the pieces to win, but not the mindset to make it happen.
As hard as the Cavs try, as many moves as they make, as loaded as their roster is, lady luck just isn't on their side. Brown clearly wasn't the right hire, and Luol Deng hasn't changed things they way some thought he would.
But, like I said before, the blame shouldn't fall on Grant. He did a pretty solid job during his tenure.
Grant was promoted to GM in 2010 after Danny Ferry resigned from the position. He took over on June 4 and the NBA draft was on the 24th. The Cavs had zero picks that year. The Decision happened on July 8. Grant had a rough first few months on the job.
It's hard to rebuild a team with no draft picks after the most essential piece of the puzzle leaves. Cleveland was decimated, and its record showed it that year. The Cavs finished the 2010-2011 season with a 19-63 record.
However, Grant was able to make some great moves. He dealt Baron Davis to the Clippers for an unprotected first-round pick that ended up being Irving. He stock-piled another first-round pick from the Lakers for Ramon Sessions. And, somehow, he got another first rounder from Sacramento in the J.J. Hickson-Omri Casspi trade.
The choices that Grant made with those picks can be criticized. But, as Grantland's Zach Lowe points out, the alternatives didn't make much sense for the Cavs.
Every one of the three "busts" that Grant drafted has yet to turn 23 years old. Anthony Bennett, his most recent so-called blunder, has struggled mightily this year. But he came off of a shoulder surgery that left him out of shape for the start of the season. He also has asthma and sleep apnea. One could argue that those are reasons not to draft a player, and one would be right, but the positives outweighed the negatives in Grant's eyes.
He got Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick in 2011, along with Irving first overall. He catches heat for drafting Thompson that high, but drafting Kawhi Leonard in his place didn't make much sense for Cleveland then, and the same goes for Klay Thompson. Also, it's not like either of them were bona-fide studs at the time. The only realistic argument for a better pick would be for Jonas Valanciunas.
Waiters was also a fourth overall pick, and he has clear talent, but he's proven to be a locker-room cancer. Brown obviously isn't the coach to unlock his vast potential. He's not a bad player by any means; Cleveland simply failed to put him in an environment where he would flourish.
The Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum signings were both a stretch. So was the Earl Clark deal. However, they were the result of the win-now mentality that Gilbert forced on Grant.
The only fault that should fall on Grant is that he ran out of time. Wouldn't it be perfectly ironic if Waiters, Thompson, and Bennett become future All-Stars on different teams? It's very possible.
Unfortunately, for Grant, things didn't work out they way he had hoped.
What it boils down to is a failure of the Cavaliers as an organization to make good decisions, and as much as they hate that word, it has done them in yet again.
Alex Marcheschi is a senior at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University who regularly watches the Cavs on FSN Ohio. Get buckets.
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