I imagine Chris Grant’s seat is feeling a little warm.
He’s the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has been awash in high draft picks in recent years — including last season’s No. 1, used on Anthony Bennett — who was told by his owner publicly it’s time to start making the playoffs.
And even in a putrid Eastern Conference, even after getting Luol Deng in a trade, the Cavaliers are 16-29 and three games out of the playoffs.
“The lack of effort is just not acceptable,” Grant said. “It’s not who we are and who we want to be. It’s got to be addressed head on. There’s no excuses for that, but we’ve seen our guys compete and execute consistently and that’s really what we’ve got to do a better job of….
“We’re in a tough stretch,” Grant said. “We came off that West Coast trip and that Denver game. We played good basketball. We played really good basketball and even in this tough stretch we’ve played a half or two of good basketball. Unfortunately, we haven’t played two full halves. All we can do is continue to stress and push that. We know it’s there because we’ve done it and we have to hold people accountable to it.”
That felt like a jab at coach Mike Brown — who Grant hired this off-season.
It’s also clearly a jab at the players, and again the roster is all about Grant’s choices (he’s been the GM since 2010). The Cavaliers have been flush with top draft picks in recent seasons and have All-Star Kyrie Irving to show for it (although the trajectory of his career feels different right now than it did a year ago, and the buzz is he is telling people he wants out, although he will end up taking a second contract there one way or another) and a whole lot of guys not living up to the hype — Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Bennett. Plus it was Grant that took a reasonable gamble on Andrew Bynum, but one that failed miserably.
There are clearly some locker room issues in Cleveland, with some of it centered around Waiters but clearly no veteran leaders who could clean that mess up.
There also seems to be some sense around the organization they really thought (or think) LeBron James could return this summer. Which borders on the kind of delusional thinking that usually lands one in a room with padded walls.
All of which is to say the issues in Cleveland run deeper than effort on the court, that is just a symptom.