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Cavs’ Griffin Addresses Coaching Situation In Cleveland

Cavs GM David Griffin addressed the rumors surrounding David Blatt and the trade front.

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Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin spoke with the media today and wanted to clear the air on a number of topics, including the on-going rumors of discord with his team and his coaching staff. He insisted that head coach David Blatt isn’t on the hot seat.

‘This narrative of our coaching situation is truly ridiculous,” Griffin said. “It is a non-story. It’s a non-narrative. Coach Blatt is our coach. He’s going to remain our coach. Do not write that as a vote of confidence. He never needed one. It was never a question. So don’t write it that way.”

Griffin said he spent a lot of time listening to the raw interview files recently from forward LeBron James where some have used his comment to make it seem as though there was doubt.

“I heard the entire audio file of LeBron James’ comments,” Griffin said. “No more than three different times he said, ‘We’re growing together every day, the team grows together every day and I’m happy with who we have at the helm.’ But that wasn’t a sexy pull quote, so we kept looking for something else until we could pool something that sounded negative. That narrative is done. No change is being made, period.”

Griffin took the time to re-state the team’s stance on where they are right now and where they expect to be going forward.

“What we’ve got is exactly what we talked about,” Griffin said. “We came into the year and I know it wasn’t a sexy story. Growth and development in the long haul is what this is about.

“Every member of our organization from top to bottom; ownership, myself, the players, coaches, LeBron himself signed on for the long haul.”

Griffin was honest that there have been some challenges on the year, but that nothing that’s occurred has changed their approach to the plan.

“This is something we’re doing over time and yes we’ve had some bumps,” Griffin said. “We’ve had it look really, really bad at times. We’ve also beaten every team ahead of us in the Eastern Conference.

“As of three games ago, we’ve played the sixth hardest schedule in the league in terms of winning percentage of opponents against and the toughest in the East. Doing all of that against the backdrop of losing 15 games from our backup point guard, losing our starting center and now LeBron has been out, Kevin [Love] had been out, Shawn Marion had been out.

“This is a really difficult recipe to get right. Everybody needs to just settle down and let it happen.”

Griffin also acknowledged that he knew that his team would get more media scrutiny than most.

“I’m not surprised. We’re like traveling with The Beatles so no, I’m not surprised,” Griffin said. “But I’ve been disappointed that the slant has been an attempt to be so negative all the time. This is exactly what we said it was going to be. It’s a work in progress and we’re going to continue to get better every day.”

Griffin was asked about his team’s pursuit of changes or trades, especially with Anderson Varejao being ruled out for the year with an Achilles tear.

“We’re very actively working the phones and doing everything we can to improve the team,” Griffin said. “At the same time, unfortunately our timing doesn’t always match the timing of everybody else. Until the trade deadline, people typically don’t have a lot of reason to do anything in a specific time. So we’re doing what we can and certainly working every angle we can. This ownership group had always been one to turn over every stone and this is no different.”

Griffin admitted that adding size wasn’t his only target.

“Clearly we came into the year talking about our need for rim protection before Andy got injured. I think it’s very clear that we have a real need for more size,” Griffin said. “Our team is versatile in that we can play multiple positions but we’re not terribly big. I’d like to improve that at multiple positions.

“I think it’s clear that point guard depth is something we need to address. Delly missed 15 games and a big portion of that, we really didn’t have a backup point guard that knew our system and was available to play a lot of minutes and that’s on me. All of that responsibility lies with me. So I think relative to what we need to do to improve, certainly we could address some talent issues but more than anything else, what we need to do is address our fit and our size.”

The Cavaliers have two salary cap exceptions – $5.285 million from the Keith Bogans trade in September and the recently awarded $4.85 million Disabled Player Exception for Varejao. Griffin indicated that the trade value of those assets is still unclear.

“It’s a difficult thing to say because again, the timing thing doesn’t always work out for you,” Griffin said. “I think they will become more attractive as it becomes time to actually make a move. At times like these, everybody is hoping their assets are worth more than they really are. I’m probably no different. I’m hoping that our DP and TP are attractive but we won’t really know until we get to the point where somebody is willing to act. I do think they give us incredible flexibility. Regardless of how attractive they are, it gives us the kind flexibility to build the deals in lots of creative ways.”

The Cavaliers are currently 19-14 on the season. Griffin indicated that James who is currently on a rehab protocol set by the medical staff would be re-evaluated next week and a timeline will be revisited.

Griffin was clear that while James’ rehab window was listed as two weeks, he said that wasn’t going to be a hard fast time line that James would return when the medical staff feels like he can resume activity without issues.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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