The Cavaliers couldn’t seem to reach a compromise, and now their general manager of three years won’t get his shot at a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals — or one last trade for a star sidekick for LeBron James.
The Cavaliers dropped a bombshell on the NBA on Monday when they announced they will not extend the contract of general manager David Griffin’s contract when it expires June 30.
Griffin’s stunning departure comes on the one-year anniversary of the Cavs’ dramatic Game 7 win over Golden State, and days after the team’s third straight Finals appearance ended in disappointment against those same Warriors.
He’s also leaving three days before the draft — the Cavs are currently without a pick — and on the eve of free agency.
“I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA Championship,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said in a statement. “We are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead.”
The two sides reportedly had been trying to strike a deal, but Griffin’s contract demands and Gilbert’s hesitation caused tension in the front office.
Griffin had been attempting to pull off a last-second splash while knowing his job was in jeopardy. He reportedly was deep in talks with the Bulls, hoping to work out a multi-team deal for Chicago’s star guard Jimmy Butler, just hours before the Cavaliers told him he was being let go. The Cavs also had been linked with the Pacers’ Paul George as they searched for answers to Golden State’s depth of star power.
Griffin’s tenuous situation with the Cavaliers made any potential blockbuster a bit awkward, with other teams inquiring about the GM’s future, according to The Vertical.
James, a Griffin advocate, was not involved in discussions with Gilbert about the GM’s future, ESPN reported. The superstar called for the Cavaliers to re-sign Griffin months before the Finals.
“It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension,” James said in April. “He’s pulled every move — he’s tried to make every move happen — to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here — from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”
Gilbert said the team was not ready to name a replacement, though five-time All-Star Chauncey Billups’ name surfaced as a potential candidate.