David Griffin defends Cavaliers’ pursuit of John Calipari

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The No. 1 reason LeBron James signed with the Cavaliers is because he was born in Northeast Ohio. The No. 1 reason Kevin Love approved a trade to the Cavaliers was because LeBron had already signed.

So, Cleveland’s great offseason was set in motion for reasons outside the Cavaliers’ control.

But general manager David Griffin still cleared the cap space necessary to sign LeBron and organized the Love trade (though luck, winning the lottery, played a huge role their too). The amount is debatable, but Griffin deserves credit – and he nearly lost his authority before the offseason began.

Griffin became interim general manager in February and permanent general manager in May. In June, the Cavaliers pursued Kentucky coach John Calipari to become team president, which would have usurped Griffin’s authority.

Fortunately for the Cavaliers, Calipari turned them down, allowing Griffin to oversee one of the best offseasons of all-time. Maybe things would have gone as well with Calipari, but it’s hard to believe they could have gone any better.

So, Griffin could be telling Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and vice chairman Nate Forbes “I told you so.” In hindsight, Cleveland probably should have just stuck with Griffin all along.

Instead, Griffin is taking the high road.

Griffin on The Doug Gottlieb Show (hat tip: James Herbert of Eye on Basketball):

To be honest with you, I don’t think anything was ever done without my knowledge of what was being done, for one. And two, I turned down opportunities to be a GM before because the fit wasn’t right

And when I sat with Dan and Nate, when we talked about our vision for the future and me having this job, I encouraged them to talk to other people. It was something that was really important to me.

I would have talked to John Calipari if I was them. I would have been disappointed if they didn’t. So, it didn’t bother me in the least.

Just as I was beginning to trust Griffin’s judgment, he implies Calipari is fit to run an NBA team. If I were searching for a team president, not interviewing Calipari sure wouldn’t disappoint me.

But hopefully, Griffin is just showcasing another skill essential for an NBA general manager – pleasing the owner.

Owners often get blamed for interfering with general managers, but part of the general manager’s job as successfully managing the owner. Defending Gilbert’s chase of Calipari could help Griffin do that.

There’s not another good reason to defend your boss pursuing a lesser candidate in order to demote you.