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Whatever Chris Grant says.

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Have I mentioned I like Chris Grant?  I do.  A lot.  Today I want to sift through his transactions with eye toward whether I’m right to feel this way.  Because I can’t think of a Chris Grant transaction that has been bad.

[And don’t you say “waiving Danny Green” because the Spurs did the same.  Twice.]

It makes me wholly mellow about how tomorrow’s draft will go down.

Joined Cavs in 2005; GM in June 2010.

June 2010, that’s a lifetime ago, no?  Hell of an orientation.  “Hi Chris, congrats on your promotion.   Be sure to join the Koffee Klub in the cafeteria, buy ten coffees and the 11th is free! … we do a ‘casual Friday’… The best player of this generation just left the team.  And that’s about it.

2010-11 transactions.

I was all, “Tristan who?” Don’t lie, so were you.

  1. LeBron.  Chris Grant’s first move was to persuade Dan Gilbert to trade LeBron rather than let him leave and get nothing back out of pique.
    “Traded LeBron James to the Miami Heat for a 2011 2nd round draft pick (Milan Macvan), a 2012 2nd round draft pick (Jae Crowder), a future 1st round draft pick and a future 1st round draft pick. Cleveland also received a trade exception from Miami. Cleveland had the option to swap 1st round draft picks with Miami in 2012 but did not do so.”
  2. Signed FA Samardo Samuels.
  3. Trade Telfair and West for Hollins, Sessions, and one of this year’s high second round picks.
  4. Waived Danny Green.  ah well.
  5. Signed FA Alonzo Gee.
  6. Trade:  Moon and Williams for Baron Davis and the pick that became KI.
  7. Drafted KI, TT.
  8. Drafted/traded Justin Harper for Magic 2013 2nd round pick (31 overall).
  9. Traded Hickson for Casspi and future first round pick.

I’m checking all number reference sites and I’m still foggy on if Cavs still have Miami’s MLE and it looks from here like the Cavs hold Miami’s unprotected 2015 first round pick.  (Haha, the 2015 Heat first round pick!  I smell high lottery.)

But I don’t think WHAT Grant is as important as THAT he got something.  Maybe Dan Gilbert settles down after The Decision and would decide to face reality pragmatically without Grant’s help.  But also, maybe Gilbert would have just been, “Eff it, I’m not dealing with Miami.”  However it happened, the Cavs pulled something out of the LeBron thing and I’m giving Grant some credit.  His asset-hoarding tendency reveals itself in the first couple weeks on the job.

The rest of the year?  Small deals at the time which become franchise changing.  Bassy Telfair and Delonte West aren’t in the league now; but Chris Grant got this year’s 19th pick from them.  Alonzo Gee is on the books for $3M; started 82 games this year.  And of course Mo Williams and Jamario Moon turned into Kyrie.

Pretty good first season there boss.

Grant got something out of his potential.

And what about Grant’s draft work that year.  KI was no slam dunk top pick.  He played eleven games for Duke.  Total.  Meanwhile Derrick Williams went beast for Arizona in the NCAAs.  I happened to like (and still do) Enes Kanter.  Tristan Thompson was mocking out at the bottom of the top ten.  Looking back at the 2011 draft, only Kawhi Leonard (15) and Kenneth Faried (22) look like better picks than TT.  No one in the league saw those two coming.

2011 looks like an easy draft to manage now, but at the time, it was not.  Grant did great by not getting cute.


2011-12 transactions.

  1. Waived Baron Davis.
  2. Trade:  Eyenga and Sessions for Walton and this year’s Lakers’ first rounder.
  3. Drafted Dion Waiters.
  4. Traded three draft picks (Crowder-from LeBron, Cunningham, James — total of 27 games started) for Tyler Zeller.

2012 is mainly cleaning up the 2011 deals.  The Sessions deal is notable.  The Lakers are ‘kinda’ in playoff contention and needed a point guard.  Grant stuck to his guns to get a first rounder and the Lakers eventually agreed to a non-lottery pick.  In an example of the sort of thing that normally happens to Ozzie Newsome, the Lakers wind up at almost the lowest non-lottery draft slot.

As for the Dion Waiters pick, I like -first- that Grant showed again he trusts his own data.  While Barnes and Drummond look like they’ll turn into good players, but Dion has a lot more going on than he gets credit for.  Click the link, there aren’t any other “DAMN WE SHOULDA TOOK THIS GUY” moments in the 2012 draft.

“Looks like a Wade move,” says the Heat announcers.


Second rounder from Wisconsin yields: Ellington, Speights, and future first rounder. #Grant’d

2012-13 transactions.

  1. Signed FA Jon Leuer.
  2. Signed FA CJ Miles.
  3. Signed FA Shaun Livingston.
  4. Trade:  Leuer for Ellington and Speights and a future first rounder.
  5. Sitting on four draft picks:  #1, #19 (Lakers-Sessions), #31 (Magic-Justin Harper), #33.

Who the eff is Jon Leuer?  Second round pick out of Wisconsin.  Has started twelve games in two years.  Traded to the Rockets and waived by Analytics Genius Daryl Morey.  And look what Grant got for this piece part:

  • Marreese Speights, played some really good games for a bit but not sure if he’ll back;
  • Wayne Ellington, first round pick from UNC and a nice shooting guard off the bench… figures into the future plans;
  • And a first round pick that look to be the Grizzlies’ unprotected 2015.

I mean.. that’s a lot for Jon Leuer.  The view from here is that Grant won TWO DEALS with Leuer, beating both Memphis and Houston.

Shaun Livingston, I think, is a super pick-up.  The guy was picked fourth overall way back in 2004.  6’7″ point guards are handy no?  He showed flashes of his potential last year and could be he salvages his career after his gruesome 2007 dislocated knee injury.

Pretty fair 2013 for Grant already and we haven’t even used the four draft picks he’s collected for this year.  We haven’t even talked about his Justin Harper draft-and-trade from 2011.  Harper has only appeared in 84 minutes for Orlando.  And naturally, Orlando had the worst record and so the top second round pick because… because Chris Grant of course.

Here’s how I rank his moves.


  1. Getting the number one pick in 2011 (assist to Dan Gilbert);
  2. Picking KI;
  3. Picking TT;
  4. Turns cash (Leuer) into Wayne Ellington and a first rounder;
    • Bonus points for getting over on Daryl Morey.
  5. Picking Dion;
  6. FA Shaun Livingston;
  7. Turns Bassy Telfair and Delonte into this years 19th pick;
  8. FA Alonzo Gee;
  9. Getting something from the LeBron mess.
  10. Justin Harper = 31 overall in 2013.

I’m now on the Noel-at-#1 team.


  1. Not taking Drummond?
  2. Waiving Danny Green?

Hell… I feel guilty listing those as ‘misses’ but I’ve got to mark him down for something.  You look at Baron Davis, Jon Leuer, Ramon Sessions, Bassy Telfair… it’s a record of building something from nothing.  (Well nothing other than Dan Gilbert’s cash.)

Shifting gears:  I now vote for Nerlens Noel.

I’m going to change my mind on my pick preference.  First choice remains:  trade for Brook Lopez.  But the more I learn about Noel, the more I like him.  Your eyes tell you he’s got more potential than my earlier choice, Alex Len.  The questions concern his frame and can he develop a post game –> both of which hinge on his head/attitude.  Will Nerlens Noel work like TT has to become a great player?  Preliminary evidence suggests he will.

But I’m not worried.  Couldn’t be more sanguine about how things play out tomorrow.  We’re in good hands.

Frankly, I can’t think of a GM I’d rather have honcho-ing tomorrow’s proceedings.


Salary cap things.

I forgot to mention Grant’s cap wizardry and Bup reminded me of it in the comments.  Cavs are in great shape.  They’re 26th in space, $22M under the cap.  I don’t have a whole lot to say here (though BKLN’s cap hell is part of the basis for taking a run at Lopez), so I’m just filing this data for your reference.

Cavs’ and NBA cap numbers going into the 2013 draft:

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  1. […] wasn’t for lack of trying.  But with a record like Grant’s, even sports journos start to get wary (see Katz’ tweet at right).  And of course no GMs […]

  2. Petefranklin says:

    Grant obviously knows that the Cleveland Clinic has a surefire cure for asthma.

    • Petefranklin says:

      espn 1100 Seat Williams interview with Anthony Bennett

      • Petefranklin says:

        Guess the four letter network listed asthma problems an hour before I did. Lets hope!

    • jimkanicki says:

      thanks for the tip pete. i know nothing about asthma… whether it’s a binary thing or if there are degrees of its impact… whether it can be treated effectively, ie, effectively for pro-basketball players… whether there are other NBA players w asthma. will check into it.

      • NeedsFoodBadly says:

        Dennis Rodman has asthma, which only leads me to believe that in thirty or forty years, our prized first draft pick will be liaising with the North Koreans. Watch out!

  3. zarathustra330 says:

    Wait a minute.. .$26m in cap space is a good thing? That cap space doesn’t rollover like minutes on a cell phone plan.

    • zarathustra330 says:

      In all seriousness, I agree with everything you have here and would add the masterful way he has leveraged the value of this year’s pick by floating pretty much every draft eligible player as a candidate for number one overall.
      There are a couple potential scenarios that spook me, but I have total confidence in grant.

  4. Max says:

    Dude has made 2 draft picks that had me scratching my head at the time, and since then, both have done enough to show that maybe this guy knows more about his job than I do. So, like you Kanick- I defer to Chris Grant and rest easy. .

  5. bupalos says:

    Great rundown. Not that you don’t note it, but it is worth maybe emphasizing that in addition to making solid by-the-numbers moves, Grant has simply gotten pretty darn lucky. If you just took straight value on a couple of those they don’t look nearly like they do the way they played out, either because of lottery luck (KI) or finishing order luck (the LA deal). Where I find him most impressive so far– and this is really more talent evaluation and maybe development than wheeling-dealing– is finding FA “garbage” that can apparently play.

    That 2015 heat pick could indeed be juicy. Might be extra bait for Lebron ’14, who by leaving for Cleve would not only be joining a good youngish core but likely creating a lottery pick for his new old team. He’d be looking at KI, Himself, TT, whatever this year’s #1 and 19 turn into, and a lottery pick added the following year to what would already be a clear title contender. That might be the most stacked and long-term stable situation he could join.

    • jimkanicki says:

      yep the FA list *is* very impressive on it’s own. but that he transforms the scrap heap into useful stuff is even more awesome.

      you’re right: anyone can luck into winning the lottery. having four picks in the top 33 and at the same time 20+M of cap space (which i failed to mention in the article)… that’s a GM who knows his business.

      • bupalos says:

        He’s definitely positioned us well. Now here’s hoping we see Noel here shortly. With or without his epic bad dudes.

        • jimkanicki says:

          i’ve really enjoyed poking holes in the ‘epic bad dudes’ rumor.
          1. because the rumor seems soft;
          2. because the research led me to like noel-the-person more than i did when i began.

          • bupalos says:

            It does look like an absolute plant. Although to be fair the other way, that “advisor” does seem super scummy. Hope Noel kicks him to the curb after we draft him. But it’s not like it should be a deal breaker in any event.

            You like anyone at 19? I’m flat out on my knees praying that Jamaal Franklin is still around. All around fantastic player with an NBA-looking game, likes contact, great active defense… just a ball player. If he could work on some range he’d be absolutely deadly. And that coud happen.

          • NeedsFoodBadly says:

            I did very much appreciate the legwork you did on that.

  6. tmoore94 says:

    Looking at Grant’s track record underscores just how hard it is to win in the NBA. Even when you make mostly all the right moves you still need some luck and a couple of really great players to compete for a title. But he is definitely at the top of the list among Cleveland’s GMs.

  7. Well said sir! For my money, I am a Chris Grant FAN. And hey, don’t forget about the soon-waived Josh Selby in that Memphis deal (actually you can forget about it if you want… has no bearing on anything whatsoever).

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