David Griffin

Cavaliers GM says there’s no clear-cut No. 1 pick, and winning Draft Lottery won’t impact coaching search

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NEW YORK — The Cleveland Cavaliers were the winners of the NBA’s Draft Lottery for the second straight year, and the third time overall since LeBron James bolted in free agency in the summer of 2010.

“It was incredible,” Cavaliers GM David Griffin said. “When Cleveland didn’t pop up at nine, I knew obviously we’d moved up, and I had to gather myself for a second. But it was just a remarkable, remarkable feeling.”

The team had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top overall pick, and had the probabilities held to form, Cleveland would have had to settle for ninth. But good fortune smiled upon the Cavaliers once again, and while Griffin represented the team on stage at the ESPN Studios in Times Square this time instead of team owner Dan Gilbert and his son Nick, Griffin made sure to bring along one of the duo’s good luck charms.

“We talked about before, not having Nick here with us but having the bow tie,” Griffin said. “I didn’t wear it, because nobody else can swing Thor’s hammer. And I kind of felt like it was a good luck charm for us all along.”

Moving up eight picks to secure the top one in a very deep draft is certainly something to celebrate. But it won’t necessarily make Griffin’s job or the organization’s decision any easier, because of a lack of a consensus No. 1 overall pick — something Griffin believes is the case most seasons.

“I don’t think there’s a clear cut number one in most drafts,” Griffin said. “And I think people, when they say that, they have a really strong feeling for one player over another. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a consensus in most drafts.”

That means there isn’t a “best player available” strategy that the Cavaliers can realistically pursue. But it sounds like they’ll look at every possibility, in hopes of landing a player who can provide an immediate impact to the team’s winning chances.

“We’re going to try to get radically better much quicker,” Griffin said. ‘We really feel like there’s a sense of urgency about  improving our team as a whole, and we’re going to look for the right fit in [accomplishing] that. We’re very open-minded in what that means.”

At present, it means the Cavaliers will make that decision without a head coach.

After firing Mike Brown (again) following season one of a five-year deal he signed when the team rehired him last summer, Cleveland will need to get a coach in place that can help mesh whoever is drafted on June 26 with the young talent already in place. But Griffin doesn’t expect the fact that the team now owns the number one pick to affect his search.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if anything, it certainly makes us a more attractive destination. But that’s a process that really is sort of in its infancy right now, and I don’t think of them as being correlated.”

Much like the decision on who to draft, Griffin is looking for the right fit at coach to help lead what’s been an arduous process to turn his team around.

“We’ve got very clear criteria for what we feel makes us better as a team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent — a lot of young talent that in some ways doesn’t fit terribly well together, and in some cases, has really helped each other grow. We just need to get the right mix. We need to get the right person to advance us the fastest, and we’re very open-minded to what that is.”

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.