INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — The flailing Cleveland Cavaliers have fired general manager Chris Grant.
With the Cavs sliding further toward the bottom in another disappointing season, owner Dan Gilbert decided to make the move a day after Cleveland was beaten Wednesday night by an injury-ravaged Los Angeles Lakers team that finished the game with just five players.
Grant’s tenure will be known for not being able to rebuild the Cavs fast enough despite having a slew of first-round draft picks, including two No. 1 overall selections.
Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin is the acting general manager.
Gilbert promised the Cavs would not return to the NBA lottery and would make the playoffs after a three-year absence, but Cleveland is 16-33 and has dropped six in a row — matching its longest losing streak of the season. The Cavs are 5 games out of the final playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference and their only win in the last nine games came over Milwaukee, which has the league’s worst record.
In a statement released by the team, Gilbert said, "This has been a very difficult period for the franchise. We have severely underperformed against expectations. Just as this is completely unacceptable to our loyal and passionate fan base, season ticket holders and corporate partners, it is also just as unacceptable to our ownership group."
Grant addressed the team’s poor play last week, saying everyone in the organization was accountable, including himself. Some of his biggest moves over the past year have backfired. Grant shocked many by drafting Anthony Bennett with the first pick last June and then signed free agent center Andrew Bynum during the summer when no other team would offer the 7-footer a contract. Grant was able to unload Bynum in a trade with Chicago for Luol Deng, but the forward’s arrival has done little to invigorate the Cavs.
"The fans of this great city have invested too much time, money and effort for the kind of product we have recently delivered to them," Gilbert said. "This must change."
Grant replaced Danny Ferry, who left the team following Cleveland’s elimination from the 2010 playoffs. Grant was instrumental in the rehiring of coach Mike Brown, who could be on shaky ground himself.
Cleveland has been under .500 since the fifth game of the season and the players have been slow to pick up Brown’s system on both ends of the floor.
In a season that’s already had too many low moments, the Cavs hit rock bottom Wednesday. Not only did they fall behind by 29 points to Los Angeles, the Lakers played the final few minutes with five healthy players, including one who was allowed to remain in the game after committing his sixth foul because coach Mike D’Antoni was out of bodies.
The Cavs were booed throughout the game and Brown, who has been unable to come up with any answers to stop his team’s skid, benched All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and three other starters in the fourth quarter as Cleveland got back in the game before losing 119-108.
The acquisition of Deng last month brought hope the season could be salvaged, but that proved to be temporary. The Cavs went 3-2 on a West Coast trip, but followed that with a 1-4 record on its longest homestand of the season. Cleveland then lost three consecutive road games, including a 31-point rout by the Knicks on national television.
Grant joined the Cavaliers in 2005 as vice president of basketball operations/assistant general manager in 2005. He was hired as general manager on June 4, 2010.