Griffin marches on as man running Cavs, and Cavs should keep it that way

Cleveland Cavaliers interim general manager David Griffin answers questions during a news conference Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Independence, Ohio. Unsure of his own future, Griffin discussed Cleveland's disappointing season, which ended for the fourth straight year shy of the NBA playoffs. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Tony Dejak/AP

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — David Griffin is saying all the things Cavaliers fans want to hear. His message in a nutshell: The Cavs need to stop accumulating stuff and start winning.

If Griffin lands the general manager job, that appears to be the plan. He wants to win.

It sounds so simple, but that wasn’t the plan under former GM Chris Grant, the man who Griffin replaced on an interim basis in February.

As Griffin said, "We’ve been in something that may be best described as asset-accumulation mode."

Grant did a nice job of setting up the Cavs with draft picks and financial maneuverability. He did a lousy job of turning those things into a winning product. This is, after all, the NBA. You don’t get four years just to make the playoffs. Fair or not, that’s the way it works.



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Griffin understands all that — something he made evident during Tuesday’s press conference at the Cavs’ practice facility.

When asked about the Cavs’ areas of weakness, Griffin didn’t hesitate. "Results," he said, and that is the kind of answer with which owner Dan Gilbert should be pleased.

It’s time for the Cavs to start winning. They need to do it by any means necessary. If it means changing coaches, so be it. If it means changing players, so be it. And Griffin himself admitted, if it means changing the man running the basketball side of things, then yes, so be it.

"We are all under review," was how Griffin described the state of the franchise.

That type of approach, that type of understanding, is why Griffin deserves the job. He may not be a "big name." He may not have played in the NBA or made the All-Star team or coached a team to a title. But it’s pretty clear he has a strong grasp of the executive side of pro basketball. That’s what you want in a leader, and it’s why Griffin deserves to stay.

He is in tune with the Cavs. He is in tune with what needs repaired. He is tune with fans who are tired of hearing that, hey, things could be great four years from now. Anyone can say that.

It’s time for the Cavs to get results. Gilbert wants them — yesterday. Griffin wants them yesterday, too. The owner and the acting GM are already on the same page. That counts for a lot.

"What I’d like to see us be in is targeted-acquistion mode," Griffin said. "We need to take the steps we need to get better."

Much like it is said of Gilbert, Griffin doesn’t rule out anything when it comes to improving the team. That similar mindset cannot be stressed enough. Every owner who has ideas on how to run things needs a person who thinks like he does, right? For Gilbert, that person is already on the staff and is already working toward the goal.

"We need to be bigger," Griffin said. "We need to be much smarter as a team. Our basketball IQ needs to improve. Our shooting needs to improve. I feel strong that our toughness needs to improve."

Finding those things is plenty doable, according to Griffin.

"We have everything we need to shift from acquiring assets to acquiring the right assets," he said.

Would someone brought in from the outside have a grasp of all that? Maybe. But maybe not.

As for the idea of hiring an executive above Griffin, a president of basketball operations-type, a la Phil Jackson with the Knicks … well, the Cavs don’t need that, either. Things can get convoluted, confusing, in those situations. Things can get overthought.

Before coming to Cleveland in 2010, Griffin spent 17 years with the Suns in various front-office roles. He worked primarily under former Suns GMs Bryan Colangelo and Steve Kerr. The Suns were a feel-good operation that played a fun style of basketball and embraced the media and fans.

It’s a considerably less-secretive (and perhaps less-militant) approach than what was instituted by Grant. Not that one way is better than the other. But they are very different.

The Cavs tried Grant’s approach and it failed. Ownership needs and wants a new line of attack. And it already has a man in place who offers what the Cavs are seeking, a man who is already pushing this franchise toward its future.

Those reasons and more are why the Cavs ought to just go ahead and make it official: David Griffin should be their next GM.