On May 12 of this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers promoted David Griffin to the role of full-time general manager. He had been playing the part of acting GM since February, taking the reigns after Chris Grant was fired amid a woeful season for the Cavs.
In the time since taking over, Griffin has merely won the top pick in the NBA Draft, used it on rookie Andrew Wiggins, re-signed franchise point guard Kyrie Irving, brought superstar LeBron James back to Cleveland, signed key role players in Mike Miller and (eventually) Shawn Marion and utilized Wiggins in a trade for the uber-talented Kevin Love.
So, you know, nothing too crazy.
However, as much credit as Griffin is due for this summer, it’s safe to say someone else had a very big role in how things have gone so far. Look behind the various events which took place for the Cavs this summer, and you’ll see James having an impact on almost every single one.
First of all, it seems as though the second-biggest offseason pickup for Cleveland, Love, was primarily thanks to James’ recruiting. The team’s new power forward said so himself during his introductory press conference this afternoon.
“LeBron had signed to come back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and just a few hours after, he called me,” said Love. “I said ‘you know what? I’m in.’ That had a lot to do with my decision.”
Yes, a mere two hours after making a decision which rippled across the entire NBA, James thought to himself, “I should give Kevin a call, see if he wants to be teammates.” Sure, Griffin had the asset — Wiggins — he needed to help pry Love away from the Minnesota Timberwolves. At the same time, you don’t get someone of Love’s caliber to fully commit to the Cavs without a little urging from the best player on the planet.
Love wasn’t the only player James made calls to, either. Both Miller and former Miami Heat teammate James Jones were reportedly wooed by the four-time MVP as well. Miller even had other, more expensive offers on the table, however he turned them down and came to Cleveland.
Word is, James had been making some recruiting calls even before he told the world he was coming home. Griffin telling free agents about his team’s plan to try and bring James back is one thing, but having the player himself ask you if you’d be up for helping him win a championship has a little more impact.
On top of this, James might not even be finished bringing in more friends. There’s still a chance another former teammate, Ray Allen, joins the club. The sharpshooter is reportedly debating between returning to the league or retiring, but all signs point to any comeback being with James in Cleveland.
Now, admittedly, no sales pitch was made when it came to getting Irving to resign. The star point guard agreed to a max contract a little over a week before James’ announcement. At the same time, the Cavs front office apparently gave Irving an in-depth look at their plans for the future, of which you have to believe there was mention of a particular possible signing at small forward. After all, the higher-ups had done careful work over the past few years to ensure they had cap space primed and ready for another max deal.
This is in no way an attempt to take credit away from Griffin. He’s done plenty of legwork this summer, and having to part with Wiggins was no easy choice for any GM to make.
At the same time, James wasn’t really known for his recruiting efforts during his first stint in Cleveland. This time, he’s been with the team for less than two months, yet the roster has already drastically changed into a title contender.
Griffin could very well win Executive of the Year, but if he does, he might want to ask if they can make two trophies.