Dan Feldman

Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin: Kyrie Irving’s trade request courageous

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David Griffin has plenty of insight into handling Kyrie Irving.

What does the former Cavaliers general manager make of Irving’s trade request?

Griffin on ESPN:

I don’t think this is youth and ignorance. This is a guy who handled the situation like he was supposed to. He went to Dan Gilbert privately, told him that he thought he would happier somewhere else. The absolute worst thing this guy could have done was pretend to be all in and sink the ship within. Most guys don’t have the courage to do what he did. So, that’s not youth and ignorance. That’s a little bit more courage than people give him credit for.

I agree with Griffin.

I might value playing for a championship contender above all else. You might value playing for a championship contender above all else. Irving needn’t necessarily share our values.

He has seemingly been up front with the Cavs, and – far as we know – never threated to become unprofessional if they don’t trade him. Remember, Irving’s trade request stayed under wraps for weeks. It seems unlikely he or his camp leaked it.

I do wonder how Griffin would explain the situation if he were still running Cleveland’s front office, though. It’s easier to be understanding when Irving’s decision no longer affects you directly. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and new general manager Koby Altman struck a different tone about Irving’s request.

Cavaliers release new uniforms

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The Cavaliers’ new wine uniforms leaked a couple weeks ago, but the team provides a better view and its new white uniforms:

These are both busier and bolder than the previous sets.

The ads, team name, numbers, waistband wording and side stripes are a lot of elements. The wine jerseys, with nine-letter “Cleveland,” look especially cluttered.

The waistbands are now solid. They were wine-and-gold striped on the previous version, as were the bottom of the shorts. Especially with the navy blue numbers on the wine jersey, this creates a bolder look.

I don’t like the jagged numbers – especially Kyrie Irving‘s No. 2. Maybe Cleveland will trade him to solve that problem. (LeBron James‘ 2 next to the 3 doesn’t look quite as jarring by comparison.)

Overall, these are a downgrade from the previous uniforms, but they’re still solid.

Jayson Tatum: Celtics would’ve drafted me No. 1, but 76ers didn’t know

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Celtics president Danny Ainge said he would’ve drafted Jayson Tatum No. 1. Of course, Boston traded down with the 76ers (who took Markelle Fultz with the first pick) then got Tatum at No. 3.

Know who believes Ainge?

Tatum.

Tatum, via WTF In The Attic:

The Celtics was always going to pick me No. 1, but Philly didn’t know that. Philly thought that Boston was going to pick Markelle. So, Philly traded the pick and gave Boston a pick for next year. So, Boston was like, “Well, we can still get the player we want, a next-year pick, and then we get the player we wanted for less money.” So Boston still got all what they wanted, and Philly had to give up still to get the player.

But Philly didn’t know that Boston was gong to pick me. So, that’s why they traded up.

If the Celtics truly felt Tatum was the best prospect in the draft, their trade with the 76ers – which netted an additional first-rounder* – is a no-brainer. Maybe Philadelphia even gave up too much. Perhaps, it would have been cheaper to trade up with the Lakers for the No. 2 pick or even remained at No. 3 and hoped Los Angeles still took Lonzo Ball, leaving Fultz to No. 3.

*The pick will be the Lakers’ if it lands 2-5 in 2018. Otherwise, it will be the higher of the Kings’ and 76ers’ own first-rounders in 2019 (unless that’s the No. 1 pick, in which case Boston will get the lower selection).

Of course, Ainge could just be spinning to promote his player. The only spot on any team’s draft board we know with absolutely certainty is Fultz ranking No. 1 on the 76ers’, because they actually took him No. 1.

But perhaps Tatum has more insight into Ainge’s thinking. If Ainge told Tatum before the trade he would draft him No. 1, that’d mean more than Ainge’s after-the-fact declarations.

Report: Knicks hiring Barack Obama’s brother-in-law

MIchael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
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Usually, a mid-level executive switching teams draws only minimal attention.

Politics make this an exception.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Milwaukee Bucks front-office executive Craig Robinson, the brother-in-law of former President Barack Obama, has accepted a position with the New York Knicks, league sources told The Vertical.

Robinson plans to fill multiple roles for the franchise, including player development and serving as general manager of the Knicks’ development league team in Westchester, league sources said.

Obviously, Obama is the big name here. He said he fantasizing about owning an NBA team. Would James Dolan sell a share of the Knicks to the former president? I doubt it gets that far, but my mind wanders that direction.

I’m also interested in the internal politics in New York. Robinson played with new/old Knicks president Steve Mills at Princeton. One of Robinson’s reported positions – Westchester Knicks general manager – was held by Allan Houston, a Dolan favorite. What happens to Houston now?

Report: Adam Silver has expressed concern to NBA owners about coaches running front offices

AP
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Doc Rivers (Clippers) and Mike Budenholzer (Hawks) have been stripped of their team presidencies, though both will remain coaches. That leaves Gregg Popovich (Spurs), Stan Van Gundy (Pistons) and Tom Thibodeau (Timberwolves) as the only remaining president-coaches.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver probably doesn’t mind the reduction.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Silver wasn’t necessarily against Rivers’ ascension to the top of the Clippers masthead, but the commissioner has privately expressed concerns to owners and senior franchise officials in several instances, case by case, about the dynamic of the coach-in-charge model, league sources said.

Coaching an NBA team is a full-time job. Running an NBA front office is a full-time job. One person doing both invites trouble, especially when that person – like Rivers, Budenholzer, Van Gundy and Thibodeau* – brings a coach’s mindset and lacks front-office experience. Building a roster requires a more measured approach than coaching.

*Popovich was San Antonio’s general manager before becoming its coach.

There are advantages to one person holding both roles, namely an avoidance of internal conflict. Sometimes, general managers and coaches spar over decisions – the general manager upset that a player he likes isn’t playing enough, the coach upset about the players he has. That’s all avoided with one person in charge setting a direction for the franchise.

The arrangement can obviously work. The Spurs are a model franchise, though part of that is based on Popovich empowering R.C. Buford. Likewise, teams with separate coaches and general managers frequently fail.

The commonality: It seems Silver is not shy about making suggestions when he believes teams could be better run.