The Cleveland Cavaliers fired general manager David Griffin on Tuesday, and LeBron James was apparently not consulted beforehand. Indeed, James was reportedly surprised and disappointed by Griffin’s dismissal.
If true, why did Dan Gilbert not discuss this with James?
“Maybe he sees the writing on the wall,” USA Today Sports NBA insider Jeff Zillgitt said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We just saw them lose in five games, and if he feels that they’re unable to win again, maybe Dan Gilbert understands that LeBron may be on his way out anyway. And I will say: LeBron did what he needed to do for that franchise, city and region. He came back, won a championship, it ended a 52-year drought – he’s good. If he left again, there’s not going to be the acrimony from the first time around. But maybe Dan Gilbert also believes that bringing another executive in and maybe making (a blockbuster trade could help). If they’re able to win, (maybe they) can convince LeBron that, ‘Hey, you have Ty Lue as your head coach, (and) this new front office was able to deliver a championship as well.’ Maybe (that would) convince him to stick around for a couple more years.”
For now, the Cavaliers will enter the 2017-18 season with their Big Three intact – key words being “for now.” The Cavs are reportedly interested in trading for Paul George or Jimmy Butler, which would almost certainly require Kevin Love in return.
“If he had to choose, LeBron wants Kyrie on the team ahead of Kevin Love,” Zillgitt said. “They feel that they need Kyrie’s scoring, his ability to handle the ball, (and to) ease LeBron’s ball-handling and take some pressure off of him. And if they get a defensive-stopper on the wing – like a Paul George or Jimmy Butler – who can also score, that will eliminate some of what they lose from Kevin Love. That’s why I think Love would be the odd-man out.”
But even if the Cavs acquire George or Butler, is that enough to beat the Warriors?
“I don’t know if it is, but I do know that the status quo is not enough,” Zillgitt said. “So I’m willing to take that chance also knowing it could all fall apart, so why not take the risk and take the gamble for one season and see what happens?”
In the end, though, Zillgitt does not think Cleveland will acquire either player. He believes that George is headed to the Lakers and that Butler will remain a Bull. He also thinks that Kristaps Porzingis will remain a Knick but that Gordon Hayward will head to Boston.
“The people in Utah are not going to like this,” Zillgitt said, referring to Hayward, “but I think Boston’s got a real shot at getting him. To go play for Brad Stevens, be with Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown – that’s the kind of guy who can make it a little more difficult on the Cavaliers when it comes to getting back to the Finals.”