Cavs GM David Griffin: 'Shame on us' if we don't maximize LeBron James' legacy
The Cavaliers general manager knows the pressure on himself and the team
When LeBron James decided to come home, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin and his front office immediately had a responsibility to build a championship team. This is not some kind of hardship -- every executive in the NBA history would love to have a player of James' caliber -- but it is a challenge. In an interview with The Vertical's Michael Lee, Griffin discussed how high the stakes are:
"I had about eight seconds of bliss and then several days of sheer terror," Griffin told The Vertical of James' arrival in the summer of 2014, "because it was, 'Oh, thank God, he's coming,' to 'Oh, my God, how do we win a championship?' "
"I've said this several times since, but you're basically charged with the legacy of Babe Ruth, and it's our responsibility to allow that legacy to grow and evolve," Griffin told The Vertical. "So it's almost like a sacred trust that the kid gives you. He's so good, in his own right, by himself, that he sort of mandates you have to be a title contender just by his presence alone ... and if you don't capitalize on the years he has left, then shame on us."
Every move Griffin's front office has made since July 2014 has been about getting the Cavaliers closer to a championship. It has traded away young players and draft picks for veterans. It has shrewdly created and used trade exceptions. The roster is barely recognizable from what it looked like at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, aside from the presence of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Griffin deserves plenty of credit for making midseason moves to improve the team three years in a row.
Part of this is because James has made the team's goal crystal clear. "Nothing clarifies like clarity," Griffin told The Vertical, invoking a phrase that the whole franchise, from ownership on down, has used repeatedly. Cleveland has limited financial flexibility due to its huge payroll, but the position the team is in has taken away a lot of the complicated decisions that other general managers have to make. If you're in charge of a mid-tier team or a fringe contender, then every move is about balancing the present with what the effects will be years down the line. If you're in charge of James' team, then every move is simply about giving James the best supporting cast possible. Griffin understands that, and he's done an admirable job of piecing the roster together.
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