When Cavs owner Dan Gilbert goes about hiring a permanent replacement for Chris Grant, who was fired Thursday as the team's general manager, he will have no shortage of capable candidates. It all depends on which direction Gilbert wants to go as he tries to lead the franchise back to respectability four years after LeBron James left for Miami.
David Griffin, who was named acting GM, is expected to get a shot at the permanent job and is deserving of consideration. Where else can Gilbert go? It all depends on what he's seeking.
Among capable candidates who are currently available, former Memphis GM Chris Wallace stands out for his experience building a contender in a small market. Former Knicks GM Glen Grunwald is highly regarded around the league and built a roster that won 54 games last season before being surprisingly demoted only days before training camp. Former New Orleans GM Jeff Bower is coaching at Marist College but remains highly respected in the NBA.
Since Gilbert likes big names, you can expect Phil Jackson to enter the equation, although the Zen Master said no to Cleveland's coaching job last summer. Pacers executive Donnie Walsh has a long history of small-market success and also executed a quick rebuild during his short time with the Knicks. The Cavs already have done some background checking on a current member of the Knicks' front office, director of pro personnel Mark Hughes, league sources told CBSSports.com.
Jeff Weltman, who was a finalist for the Phoenix GM job that went to Ryan McDonough, is now with Toronto and is expected to get a call, league sources say. His father, Harry Weltman, was GM of the Cavs in the 1980s. David Morway was part of the front office that built the Pacers into an Eastern Conference power. Now in Milwaukee, Morway has been a candidate for several GM positions.
One under-the-radar possibility to keep an eye on is Clippers GM Gary Sacks, league sources say. Sacks worked alongside current Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey to build a roster that was appealing enough to persuade Chris Paul to sign a long-term deal and enticing enough to lure Doc Rivers from Boston. But Sacks' power as the final voice on personnel decisions now belongs to Rivers.
The most interesting name? If Gilbert wants to think outside the box and pluck a member of a successful NBA family tree, he should look no further than Michael Winger, the No. 3 executive in the Oklahoma City front office. Winger is a rising star who has been groomed by Thunder GM Sam Presti, whose long-term approach to sustainable success in a small market should be the blueprint for a team like Cleveland. Singer also worked for the Cavs from 2005-10 and had a good relationship with Gilbert.
The only question there for Gilbert is, after four years of going nowhere after LeBron's departure, how much longer is he willing to wait to get the team on the right path?