I really did not think it would come down to this, but Dan Gilbert needs to seriously think about every aspect of his basketball team. He has spent the money and displayed the passion every Cleveland fan dreams about from it’s sports franchise owners. Gilbert has also visibly supported the decisions of his General Manager, Chris Grant, and has done nothing to undermine him. That is something a passionate owner can sometimes do to overstep his bounds as an owner. He also clearly supported the decision to rehire Mike Brown and has been very vocal in his support. In fact, that might be something that Gilbert himself initiated.
Now, over halfway into the season, Gilbert is seeing the same exact signs of disarray that caused Byron Scott to be fired and Brown to be hired. Since the coaches are different and the results basically the same, it is a critical time for a completely fresh review of all aspects of the Cavalier’s organization. This includes intense scrutiny of Chris Grant, Mike Brown, and essentially every player on the Cavalier’s roster. Admittedly this is something generally reserved for the General Manager of a franchise and not the owner but Gilbert has no choice given that Grant should be one of the critical pieces reviewed. He may need to call some high level contacts around the league that he certainly must have developed and ask them to please provide an assessment of Grant, Brown, and the players on the Cavaliers. Although this would certainly need to be “off the record”, it should be possible to get an experienced view or two of the problems facing the Cav’s franchise.
I personally do not have all the answers but I am observant enough to realize that this just isn’t working. The Cavaliers should be dramatically further in their development given the good fortune they have had with number one picks and the shear number of pics they have had over the past several years. Grant has squandered opportunities in the second round of drafts and may have made the ultimate blunder in this year’s draft by squandering the number one overall pick. He seems to be very good at acquiring “assets” to use in the future but not as adept at using those assets efficiently. Maybe his picks will all turn out to be All-Stars and Bennett may eventually turn one of the worst busts into a decent player. But, given the lack of progress on this team, those fortunate scenarios seem less likely by the day.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal made a compelling case also that Kyrie Irving himself should not be absolved from blame for the Cavs abysmal record. Certainly anyone who has seen point guards around the league blowing by Irving like he is standing still recognizes that blame clearly resides with our All-Star point guard.
So no one should be immune from this evaluation, including Irving. But, given his immense talent, a preferable solution to this mess would be one that includes him over one that excludes him. Irving often says exactly the right things but there is no conviction or passion coming from his words. They seem hollow in most interviews. This is in contrast to the interviews of Tristan Thompson that show obvious passion and disgust for losing. He says the right things and you can feel what he is saying. With Irving it sometimes sounds like a recap of Mike Brown’s beliefs and observations void of conviction. This is a bad sign and similar to the progression of the “one that left” only much earlier in his development. You almost get the feeling that Kyrie is “plotting his departure” long before that even makes sense financially. Now that is probably just Cleveland fan pessimism speaking, but it also could be true. As far as Irving is concerned, he needs to be sat down and told what is expected of him and what he needs to do to help the team win. Not what he needs to do to promote his “brand” or get more awards that doesn’t include the team winning. If he can’t do it, then the trade block might be the best way for him to help the Cavs win games. He would command a substantial return in any trade. Far better than letting him walk away for a few draft picks.
It probably would be ill advised for Gilbert to replace Grant or Brown or Irving at this time. Those kind of moves would be “Browns like” and I don’t mean that in a good way. So, once he does his research, he needs to talk with Grant and give him a solid chance to get the franchise out of this mess. By that I mean to the end of this season. He needs to be clear his job is on the line and he needs to bring a winner to Cleveland this year without mortgaging all of our future. That is possible but we might need to trade a valuable asset. If we can get valuable assets in return that will help the Cavs win sooner than later, that might be worth the risk. As far as whom to trade, that is a difficult decision and greatly depends on what other teams might offer in return. Everyone but Irving should be fair game for now and, if Irving does not do what he needs to do to advance the team, he should be right there with the rest.
Brown needs to know that there is no three year plan here. He needs to get this team going quickly or he might end up being “one and done” like Chud. Again, this is not an ideal alternative but is preferable to continuing to accept a losing result. Part of the Brown discussion should include the oft talked about “offensive coordinator” that needs to be added to his staff. Brown has never shown the necessary aptitude on the offensive side of the ball.
I guess my major point is that there must be consequences clearly outlined for each member of the Cavalier’s organization. Those consequences will include not being a part of this franchise going forward. Expectations must be set and, if not met, the pink slip will follow. The players need to know that this is their last chance to prove they can win with this group of teammates. If not, then their teammates or they will be traded until a winning group of players emerges.
No one would be more disappointed than myself if this entire organization needed blown up in order to instill the clear message that winning is the only acceptable outcome. Anything less will not be tolerated. As Cleveland fans, we should demand no less and expect no less. I really like Dion Waiters and Andy and Tristan and Kyrie and most of the players on this roster (not including Earl Clark). But if one or more of them needs to go to advance the franchise forward and into the playoffs, I am all for it. It’s about time don’t you think!!