Cavs GM Grant: Expectations high heading into 2013-14
Questions and answers with Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant from Monday’s media day:
Question: DeSagana Diop? Did you feel you needed another big man?
Chris Grant: “Yeah we really did. With Kenny (Kadji), Henry (Sims) and (Diop), we’ve added some big guys to camp. Obviously with Andrew (Bynum) and other injuries we’ve had in the past, we wanted to make sure we had enough big guys for camp. The whole month of October is important to us.
“DeSagana’s done a nice job, he’s in good shape. He’s come in and worked hard. He worked out for us a few days last week, he looked good, and it’s hard to find big guys.”
Q: Did you accomplish everything you wanted heading into training camp?
CG: “I don’t know that you ever accomplish everything. At the beginning, you never know how it’s gonna turn out.
“We’re excited with the players we’ve added to the roster. We’re really excited about our coaching staff. They’ve done a phenomenal job over the summer and leading us into the season. So bringing those two groups together … I’m looking forward to seeing them on the court (Tuesday) morning.
“We’ve added some pretty significant pieces, some players in some large roles. It’s gonna take some time for them to grow, learn each other and learn the coaching staff. It’s never perfect.
“You’re always wanting another piece here or there. But we’re excited about what we accomplished and excited to get the guys out there with the coaches.”
Q: Why was addition of Jarrett Jack important?
CG: “We went into the offseason and knew we needed to get another guard. We also wanted someone with some leadership, some toughness, somebody that could and has made big shots, and somebody that’s played on a playoff team. Obviously, (Jack) fit all those categories.
“I’ve known him since he was at Georgia Tech. He’s really matured into a very good young leader, and understands what it’s about. All those experiences, I think, will help our young group.”
Q: What specifically is Andrew Bynum’s situation? What’s the next step?
CG: “It’s hard to know the exact next step because he didn’t play last year. He’s in the midst of his rehabilitation process. We’re not gonna put any hard timelines on things. You saw him (at media day), his body looks great. He’s been working like crazy, he’s progressed.
“He is out on the court, getting up and down, full-court, full speed. He hasn’t played any five-on-five. But it’s still in the beginning of that process. There’s been no setbacks and he takes steps every day. But there’s no hard timeline on any type of drop-dead date for him.”
Q: Do you want Bynum ready for the regular season?
CG: “We haven’t set a date like that. We’re going to go through the process. We’re not gonna skip any steps. If that means he’s ready to go in two weeks, great. If it means it’s a month and a half, great.
“He’s 25 years old, so putting him in the best position to succeed and being able to add a player to your roster who’s a (former) All-Star, at that age, we’re gonna be fairly conservative in our approach — with the understanding that he’s gonna be on the court soon.”
Q: Do you view this team as a playoff team?
CG: “We’ve talked about this in the past. With this group of players, and some of the younger players in the third year of their careers, when you see guys take a nice bump, we have high expectations.
“Mike (Brown) and I talk about this often. We’ve got a lot of work to do, which is going to happen in practice and some of these (preseason) games. Guys have to come together — there’s some significant pieces that have to come together.
“We have a new culture, a new corporate language, a new corporate knowledge that our players have to learn. So there’s a process. At the same time, we feel like we’re talented enough to win a lot of basketball games.
“But we’re going to look at this on a day-to-day basis. We need to get better every single day, and every game we go into, we need to try to win that game. I think with this group of players, we have that ability.”
Q: Are you happy to hear that the players are talking confidently?
“Yeah, you want your guys to be that confident. That goes along with, ‘Let’s walk in the gym every day, and try to win that basketball game.’ Don’t look too far ahead, and make sure we focus on the moment.
“It’s good for our guys. We want them to have the high expectations. (Cleveland) is a pretty amazing place when you play deep into the playoffs. It’d be great to have the guys feel that energy.”
Q: Did you get out of Dion Waiters what you were hoping for in his rookie season?
CG: “He was pretty good. He was first-team All-Rookie, played with USA Basketball out in Las Vegas with Kyrie (Irving) and Tyler (Zeller). I forget his scoring numbers, but compared to other rookies … I thought he progressed well through the season.
“Probably halfway through the season, in December or close to January, he took a big step, then took another big step toward the end of the season.
“So we’re excited about his progress going into his second year. He’s gotta take another step and continue to grow, and get better as a player. So far, he’s off to a good start.”
Q: What’s the one area where you want to see the team improve the most?
CG: “I think defensively. We were ranked very low last year in the defensive categories, and that’s an area where we have to get better.
“You look at teams that are successful and go deep into the playoffs over the history of time, they’re ranked in the top half of the league in defensive field-goal percentage. That’s an area where we have to grow. It will help us win games.”
Q: Is that where you think Brown will make his greatest impact?
CG: “I think initially. Mike’s obviously an excellent basketball coach. But I think initiall, defense will be a big area of focus because it’s a big area of need.”