The Cleveland Cavaliers need to fire GM Chris Grant immediately. Some of you may wonder where this is coming from in the middle of August.
The answer to that is simple.
This day was a long day coming. I planned on writing this article shortly after the 2012 NBA draft, but I waited to see if Chris Grant could redeem himself in free agency. Unfortunately for Grant and Cavs fans, he botched free agency this summer as well.
The only thing holding this article back from being completed was the Dwight Howard trade drama. At different times the Cavs were rumored to be involved in multi-team iterations that were rumored to bring them Andrew Bynum or draft picks for taking on undesirable contracts like Kris Humphries'.
If Grant had found a way to land Bynum without crippling the future of the franchise, I would have let him off the hook. Naturally Grant flopped worse than a European soccer player in those attempts. Therefore, he will not receive a pardon from me.
Grant was named GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 4, 2010. In two short years, he has proven to be the worst GM of any Cleveland professional sports team that I can remember in my lifetime.
Just after a month into his tenure as GM in Cleveland, Grant saw LeBron James announce he was taking his talents to South Beach during The Decision. I will not pin that entire result on Grant, but it was certainly a harbinger of things to come.
Heading into the 2011 NBA draft, the Cavs had FIVE PFs under contract on the 15-man roster. For reference those PFs were J.J. Hickson, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, Samardo Samuels and Luke Harangody. They also had two first-round and two second-round picks in that draft. Grant ended up selecting a PF with three of those four draft picks. Apparently, Grant has a PF fetish. Either that or he is a moron. I am willing to believe either hypothesis is true.
Why else would you pass up drafting any SG, SF or C when each was a pressing need on the team?
The most egregious pick of that draft was selecting PF Tristan Thompson fourth overall. That prompted the Cavs to trade Hickson to Sacramento for sub-par SF Omri Casspi and a protected first-round pick that the Cavs will receive shortly after I have grandchildren. One dumb pick resulted in a dumb trade to try and make up for the first mistake. Brilliant.
Heading into the 2012 NBA draft, the Cavs had five players under contract; Kyrie Irving, Omri Casspi, Luke Walton, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. They also had two first-round and two second-round picks in that draft. That was four badly needed picks to fill out a roster desperate for young talent with 10 open roster spots to fill. Grant decided it was best to piss away those draft picks.
He used the fourth overall selection to take SG Dion Waiters out of Syracuse. In two years, Waiters never started a game for Jim Boeheim and the Orangemen. He was a sixth-man spark-plug SG off the bench. Somehow Grant convinced himself it was a good idea to take him high in the lottery. Grant apologists who drink whatever Kool-Aid is handed to them will point to "basketball sabermetrics" that compared Waiters to Dwyane Wade.
Anyone with an eye for talent such as myself scoffs at sabermetrics as the end all be all. When I see a talented player, I do not need some stat geek to confirm what I already know. When a player is not that good, I will roll my eyes when the stat geek tries to tell me otherwise. Poking holes in the sabermetrics argument is easy.
Waiters had "elite" sabermetric numbers for a variety of reasons. He was not a starter, so he often faced inferior competition when he was in the game (inflation). He did not play starter level minutes so he was always more fresh and therefore was able to be more efficient (inflation). He played in Syracuse's 2-3 match-up zone that required him to use minimal energy on defense (inflation).
Waiters projected to be exactly what he was in college—a nice spark-plug sixth man off the bench at SG. You take a guy like that in the middle of the first round—not with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Waiters struggled mightily during the 2012 NBA Summer League. He shot a pathetic 12-of-40 from the floor. Struggling against Summer League competition does not bode well for the future.
Grant followed up that debacle of a pick by trading the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks in the draft for C Tyler Zeller out of North Carolina. I think Zeller can be an adequate C in the NBA. However, that does not equate to what the Cavs gave up to get him. Grant severely overpaid to trade up for Zeller's draft rights.
The Cavs had 10 roster spots to fill and four draft picks to help fill it. Instead Grant opted for two draft picks and a bunch of flotsam and jetsam in free agency.
Would you rather have Waiters and Zeller or what I would have picked—Andre Drummond, Perry Jones III, Scott Machado and your SG choice of either Will Barton, Doron Lamb, Orlando Johnson or William Buford?
In free agency, Grant sat on his hands and did not make a run at JaVale McGee, O.J. Mayo, Hasheem Thabeet, Spencer Hawes or Courtney Lee. All five of those guys were reasonable suggestions I made previously, as either first or second options for respective roster spots.
Instead smarter franchises scooped those five players up.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, fresh off this year's NBA Finals appearance, scooped up Thabeet.
The Dallas Mavericks, who won the NBA Championship in 2011, signed Mayo.
The Boston Celtics, who won a title as recently as 2008, got their hands on Lee.
The Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers re-signed McGee and Hawes respectively. How do we know those two franchises are smart? Those two managed to get included in the four-team Dwight Howard megatrade. They both made out like bandits (as did the Los Angeles Lakers).
On the flip side, the Cavs made out like losers after not being able to get their hands on Bynum or extra draft picks by acting as a facilitator. Only the Orlando Magic look worse than them in the end.
When C.J. Miles is the biggest free agent you bring into the fold with a mountain of cap space and tons of affordable options on the table, it is time for Grant to go.
Every time you look at the standings this upcoming season and see the Cavs out of the playoff picture, I urge you to tweet something including #FireCavsGMChrisGrant. Emails, letters and any other form of communication are fine as well. Whatever it takes. Grant is a human wasteland and needs to go.
Feel free to add #HireLeoFlorkowskiForCavsGM as well. Then the Cavs would actually have a good GM once again.