August 1, 2014

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Cavs: Acting GM Griffin knows everybody is under review

INDEPENDENCE — David Griffin insists he isn’t “acting.” Even with his current “interim” tag, he is proceeding as if he will continue to be general manager of the Cavaliers.

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts that was intended to wrap up the 2013-14 season, Griffin was in the somewhat awkward position of having to answer questions about the team’s future without having certainty about his own.

Owner Dan Gilbert was not on hand and has not commented on possible front office or coaching moves, but the fact the organization put Griffin behind a microphone six days after the end of a 33-49 season could be an indicator he’s going to be retained.

Cavaliers interim general manager David Griffin answers questions during a news conference Tuesday. Unsure of his own future, Griffin discussed Cleveland’s disappointing season. (AP PHOTO)

Cavaliers interim general manager David Griffin answers questions during a news conference Tuesday. Unsure of his own future, Griffin discussed Cleveland’s disappointing season. (AP PHOTO)

“I feel very confident that ownership and myself will be moving in the same direction,” Griffin said. “I also don’t need to hear anything from them to know that tomorrow I have to get better.

“From a timing perspective, it is irrelevant to me. I don’t feel a great sense of wonder right now. I know what the mission is. (Gilbert) doesn’t need to tell me that.”

Confident, personable and extremely positive, Griffin had no problem with the fact Gilbert was not at the press conference.

“He doesn’t need to address it relative to me and relative to our staff,” he said. “We all know what the charge is here. I didn’t show up to work today wondering what had to happen. I know what has to happen.”

What may ultimately happen is Griffin staying on as GM, but there’s a chance the Cavs may also bring in a president of basketball operations. Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Chauncey Billups are among the names that have been mentioned as a possible future boss for Griffin, but he’s not wasting any time worrying about that.

“There’s no reason for me to guess at anything like that,” he said. “Frankly, there’s no reason for me to believe anything has to change in that way, either. We have an opportunity to be very good together and to make this what it needs to be.

“If Dan and his ownership group think there’s a way to make this a better situation, I expect them to act on it. I would be disappointed if they don’t.”

Griffin’s name has been mentioned in connection with several other NBA jobs, but he stressed he’s not looking to go anywhere.

“You’re either all the way in or you’re all the way out,” he said. “There’s no in between. You declare a side. I’m all the way in. This is where I want to be.”

Griffin took over as GM when Chris Grant was fired on Feb. 6. He came to the Cavs in 2010 as vice president of basketball operations after spending 17 years in the Phoenix Suns organization.

Griffin acquired center Spencer Hawes from Philadelphia and the Cavs went 17-16 after he took over as GM, but they missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

“Our results are totally unacceptable. Period,” the 44-year-old said. “There’s nobody that’s comfortable with that. Why would (Gilbert) give me the job? Because he believes I can make us better.”

Griffin, however, was quick to add, “I’m not going to campaign. I’m not running for mayor. I understand what we need to do to get better.”

If Griffin stays as GM, one of his first orders of business will be determining the future of coach Mike Brown, though he may not have final say if a team president is hired.

“We’re all under review,” Griffin said. “Everyone in this organization is under review. In terms of timing and who will be making that call, we’re going to get together and collectively we’re going to talk about our future and our vision of that future and where we need to go.

“If we’re all on the same page, I see no reason why this group can’t be successful. And if we’re not, we need to make whatever changes put us on the right page.”

Brown just finished the first year of a five-year, $20 million contract. All but the last season are fully guaranteed.

Brown, who previously coached the Cavs from 2005-10, was hired very quickly after the Cavs fired Byron Scott following the 2012-13 season, but Grant and Gilbert were the men who made that decision.

“Our coach and our coaching staff did a very good job,” said Griffin, who praised the team’s improved defense and the offensive strides made in the second half of the season before reiterating, “We’re all under review. We all need to get better. Period.”

Griffin was fairly vague when asked about a possible contract extension for guard Kyrie Irving — the Cavs can give him approximately $80 million over five years — but praised the progress made by the third-year pro.

“He’s made the strides he’s needed to make in terms of his openness of realizing his role as a leader,” he said. “He’s 22 years old. We have to have very realistic expectations for him. What he’s done a very good job of is opening himself up to the team and trusting more.”

Griffin also said he was confident Irving and Dion Waiters, also 22, would continue to make progress as backcourt partners.

“Relative to their (personal) relationship, I have no qualms at all. I’m telling you they’re fine,” the interim GM said. “In terms of their fit on the court, you’ve seen flashes of them being very, very good together. What you’ve seen is they’re part of some of our very best lineups on the floor.”

Griffin quickly added that the Cavs must surround Irving and Waiters with better shooters and become a more intelligent team on the court.

“This is not something that is done in a vacuum,” he said. “It’s not the two of them. It’s not about their fit. It’s about our fit. It’s too easy to look at them. To blame either one of them, that’s not what’s gone wrong here. It’s a collective thing.”

Along those same lines, Griffin stressed the Cavs need to get bigger and tougher, both mentally and physically, and find players that fit together better on the court.

“I think all our players recognize we do have some fit issues,” Griffin said. “They all spoke to that (in exit interviews).

“There is no isolated blame of any kind,” he added. “It’s the collective. Right now the collective isn’t working. We need to make it work.”

To that end, Griffin wants to go from “asset-accumulation mode” to “targeted-acquisition mode.” He’s confident the team can land a good player with the ninth pick in the NBA Draft — the Cavs have a 6.1 percent chance of getting into the top three through the lottery — but also isn’t against trading the selection.

“We’re not in a situation where we’re married to the idea of bringing in another young player,” he said. “It’s time for us to start targeting the right fit.”

Griffin added the Cavs could have as much as $26 million in salary cap space available “pretty easily, without doing too much gyrating.”

“And we could create plenty more as well,” he added. “We have plenty of space to do anything we really need to do.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.