Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin appeared to take exception to LeBron James’ recent public criticisms of the Cavs’ roster.
After a loss to the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, James blasted the Cavs’ roster, saying the team is “top-heavy as s—,” they need a ‘f—ing playmaker,” and that they would be in trouble if he or Kyrie Irving got injured.
James also said his team isn’t better than last year and he hoped that they weren’t getting complacent after winning a championship.
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Griffin and James met privately after James’ comments. Then, on Wednesday, before a 116-112 overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings, Griffin addressed the media.
While Griffin didn’t seem worked up about the criticisms, he did defend the roster and the job he’s done building it.
“The comment about the organisation being complacent I think is really misguided,” Griffin said. “Organizationally, there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our goal set is. We are here to win championships, and there is no other solution, there is no other outcome that is acceptable, and there never has been. But in terms of the on-the-court complacency, I’ve seen a lot of that.”
Griffin also said the team needs to improve “from within,” suggesting that they may not have any big moves on the radar.
“The thing we have to do the most is get better from within. This is the team we have, and we really like this team a lot. We believe in this team at a deep level, and we need to get better from within and play better, quite frankly. We need to have a greater sense of urgency and start to develop a championship identity.”
According to McMenamin, some within the Cavs were in “disbelief” that James would call out the front office, given that they just won a championship while also footing the most expensive payroll in NBA history. However, others reportedly felt that James’ comments came at the right time, believing the Cavs react better when the pressure is on. Griffin seemed to confirm this school of thought.
“We’re not good from the front. We’re much better when we’re the hunter. … It’s hard for me to tell you we’re dealing with a lot of adversity when we’re No. 1 in the East. But we have a tendency to be our best when our backs are against the wall, so I have no reason to believe that won’t be true now.”
Griffin said that his meeting with James was positive, but did not disclose any details. He also said the team will not change its timeline or game plan.
On Wednesday, ESPN reported that the Cavs turned down the Knicks’ offer to trade Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love. The Cavs are reportedly not interested in moving Love in the midst of an All-Star season, particularly after he helped them win the championship last year. Though there are arguments to be had that Love is more valuable than Anthony currently, the rejected offer also suggests that the Cavs are unlikely to make any major moves, instead opting to improve on the periphery.
As Griffin stated, the Cavaliers are still in first in the Eastern Conference, and history has shown us there isn’t a legitimate threat to their conference supremacy. Still, mired in a mini-slump, it’s clear the Cavs have issues, and James has made it known he wants them fixed.
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