INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — David Griffin officially became Cavaliers general manager about a month before LeBron James announced his return in July 2014.
It’s worked out well for Griffin, who will go down as the first GM in Cavs history with a championship.
But Griffin has been more than just LeBron. Just LeBron doesn’t work, not when the idea is winning titles. It’s Griffin who has shaped the roster, bringing in key pieces such as Kevin Love, J.R. Smith (once re-signed) and Richard Jefferson. It was also Griffin who made the bold coaching change from David Blatt to Tyronn Lue last midseason.
Only Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson remain from the day Griffin took over two years ago.
So yes, Griffin’s reign has been more than just All LeBron, All the Time. He has found pieces that fit around the stars, pieces that work together, pieces that have already made Cleveland sports history.
Amico Hoops caught up with the Cavs GM for a quick Q&A. Here is what the man running the team had to say.
Question: Did the summer after a championship have a different feel?
Griffin: The offseason felt incredibly short. After (the championship), everything sort of stacked up — the draft, the free agency moratorium, everything. We haven’t really had time to reflect on the title very much. That’s what made media day special. It was an opportunity to look back on the season and championship.
Q: What are your overall impressions heading into camp?
Griffin: We’re excited. As I told everyone, this training camp will be the most competitive I’ve been involved with here. This is my seventh camp with Cleveland. There are literally five guys coming in who have a legitimate chance at a roster spot. That is important for us, because the one evil you face when you win a title is complacency. So we want to add all of the hunger and desire we can. We’ve been blessed with some real quality newcomers.
Q: Do you think LeBron’s experience of winning previous titles will benefit the rest of the team?
Griffin: Yes, they’ve responded to him from the beginning. At the same time, our chemistry evolved as the season went on. LeBron sets the tone. His drive is pervasive. We’re all sort of keyed in on it. But I think the key for us, in terms of forward thinking, is this group has a chance to be special good. We really believe our best basketball is in front of us, and I think we’re all motivated to prove it.
Q: How nice is it that coach Ty Lue and his staff will get to start from training camp, as opposed to midseason?
Griffin: Well, that’s incredibly beneficial. For the coaching staff to be together from the start, to go through the process together … everyone should be comfortable. Along with the entire staff, (assistant coach) Larry Drew was invaluable last season down the stretch. I think the coaching staff will find new ways to win. Ty is unique in his ability to reach guys. That means a lot, and so will an entire season of implementing the right game plan. I’d say our future is pretty solid.