For a man who took the press conference stage with very little he could definitively say, newly-christened full-on Cavs General Manager, David Griffin, did what he seems to do best: he made everyone feel just a little bit better. His press conference track record is only three pressers old, but each one has seemed to carry the same aura of positivity, a chomping-at-the-bit enthusiasm built on two decades of front office experience, that makes one feel moderately assured that the speaker not only knows the speech, he may actually know enough to have written it himself.
Griffin’s 25-minute heavily veiled unveiling had about all the good feelings one can muster while helming a franchise that still has more question marks attached to it than the Riddler’s costume. Now, at least, it has one less question. Griffin admitted to the uneasiness of the process that had him as “sometimes the object” of “very deep” organizational analysis and “sometimes a participant.” The result, though, is “truly a dream come true.” Well, for Griffin, at least.
He refused to talk specifically about the firing of former head coach, Mike Brown, out of respect to “an incredibly good human being.”
“This is not about anything anyone did wrong,” Griffin said, it’s about moving forward “in lockstep” so as to make the “greatest leap forward” as an organization.
He conceded, though, that “if this were a perfect situation, I wouldn’t be sitting here.” The team clearly has “pieces that don’t fit and pieces that need adding.”
The team has “no precise timetable” in filling their head coaching vacancy and Griffin said it was “not about being first” but “about getting it right.”
-On whether firing Mike Brown just one season into his second tenure with the team sends a message to the rest of the league that the organization is unstable, Griffin stressed he felt the exact opposite. The organization’s current situation was born out of “lack of fit, not lack of stability.”
-Griffin: “Any insinuation that Kyrie Irving had anything to do with this decision is patently false.” Does noticeable on-court pouting and lack of effort for one’s head coach not count for something?
-Griffin won’t rule out a coach from any major level: college, former pro, current pro assistant.
-He said the decision to fire Brown was “absolutely collaborative” between himself and owner, Dan Gibert.
-The most telling part of the press conference came when Griffin explained the perceived philosophical differences between his basketball background and other recent Cavs coaches/GMs. Griffin, coming up as part of the offensive-centered Phoenix Suns organization, was never viewed as a good fit with Brown’s defensive-first system. “You find the truth in the middle,” Griffin said today. “Ownership believes in defense. I believe in offense. And the truth is in the middle.” That’s refreshingly candid, but does it bode well for the future of someone who has already preached at length the importance of fit?
-Griffin does have some experience conducting a head coaching search. In 2008, as part of a front office headed by Steve Kerr, the Phoenix Suns named Terry Porter the team’s head coach. That didn’t work particularly well, however, as the defensively-focused Porter, was a poor fit with the offensive make-up of the team and was fired after less than a year on the job. Also, can cross Mike D’Antoni off the Cavs head coach list? D’Antoni was the head coach fired by the Suns that Kerr/Griffin were trying to replace in 2008.
-He said that nothing has changed from his end-of-season press conference. He still thinks the team needs to get “bigger,” “smarter” from a basketball IQ standpoint, tougher, and have better shooters and overall fit. No problem, right? [cough ... cough...]
-While Griffin said there was no timetable for the team’s coaching hire, he did say “I would hope we would have some candidates lined up to talk to [at the Chicago pre-draft camp later this week].”
And that, Cavs fans, is your first toe-dip into the hopefully very deep and successful pool that is the David Griffin Era.
Deep breath. Cross fingers. Rub your lucky Mark Price jersey. Repeat.