In this Right Down Euclid Q & A, RDE editor Chris Manning talks to waitingfornextyear.com editor Scott Sargent about David Griffin’s press conference, the future of Anderson Varejao and whom he would take if the Cleveland Cavaliers again won the draft lottery. The full interview is below in audio and an excerpt of the transcribed audio is below .rrYou can follow Scott on Twitter @WFNYScott. If you want to listen to the Q & A on SoundCloud or download the file to listen to in iTunes, click here.
Chris Manning, RightDownEuclid.com: Scott, you were at David Griffin’s press conference last week. Before we discuss whether you think he is the guy, what were some of your takeaways from what he had to say?
Scott Sargent, WFNY Editor: Well, he’s in a tough place because he is the acting general manger and he doesn’t necessarily know his fate and if he does, he didn’t share it with anybody. I can’t say too much, but I personally really like David. He’s very much the opposite of [former Cavs GM] Chris Grant . That’s not to say Chris Grant wasn’t a good general manager and I think Chris Grant did what he was supposed to do given where the team was once he took over. But David isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. He said the team needs to get smarter and tougher and become better shooters and bigger. That’s something Chris would have never said and I think it speaks volumes that he was willing to say that he is no longer in asset accumulation mode, which is a phrase Chris used very often. David, while he says he’s not trying to sell himself, he’s certainly trying to make it aware to fans and local media that his way of looking at things is a lot different than what the team was doing before hand even if David was apart of the decisions.
SS: I never know want to assume or what Dan Gilbert is thinking. As a fan and someone who has spoken to David one-on-one at times, I am perfectly comfortable with him being general manager of this team. I think he is the perfect marriage of analytics and eyes-and-ears for the game. I think he knows what to do and how to build around the team, which I think speaks volumes because if you bring in a new general manager without ties to any of these players, I think you’re looking at something that could be pretty dysfunctional from a team-building exercise. I think David was a part of, at least on the periphery, of the decisions that lead to Dion and Tristan and Kyrie and Sergey and on down the line. Anthony Bennett too. So he knows what needs to be done to add on to the team to make it work as it’s presently built and I think if you brought in a new GM, he would want to have his fingerprints over a lot of this stuff and that makes me a bit nervous. Given where a lot of these players are contract wise, I think it’d be a very tough sell to Kyrie to bring in someone new and start over.
CM: Do you think it would be an easier sell to fans, much like when the Browns went with Mike Holmgren, to go with that president and hire a name like George Karl?
SS: In the NFL, I kind of get it. There’s a lot more going on. 53 men is a lot different than 15. And OGAs and all the different things that go on in the NFL, I can kind of see how a president of whatever you want to call it works. I don’t see how it adds much benefit at all from an NBA standpoint aside from having another basketball mind on the payroll and it’s just something that they have to call someone to give them a lucrative contract and set some sort of hierarchy.
George Karl is a great basketball mind. I love George Karl as a person. I’ve written about him in the past. I had the opportunity to speak with him when he was with the Nuggets. I think he is a terrific man and great head coach. I don’t think he has the ego of Mike Holmgren, but I think you’d essentially be adding Mike Holmgren to the Cavs.
CM: Do you think Luol Deng is back with the Cavaliers next season? Personally, I think he’s with a contender whether it’s with Phoenix or Dallas or somebody else.
SS: I’d love for him to come back, but I don’t want to pay for him to come back. If they can somehow get him to agree to an $8 million-a-year, $9 million-a-year deal, I think you do that. But I thin he’s going to get a huge contract somewhere and as good of a guy as Luol Deng is, look what the Bulls did without him for one. Two, he’s got a lot of miles on those legs. He’s still young, but he’s been in the league for 10 years, which is crazy to think about.
I think he does well for spacing. I think he’s a great defender. He’s a slasher, which the Cavaliers desperately need, but I think you need to try and find that somewhere else for a more economic cost because this team has a lot of holes to tie money into a 30 year old small forward.
CM: The other guy the Cavaliers traded for this season, Spencer Hawes, is also set to be a free agent. Do you think he’s back and are you in favor of bringing him back?
SS: I sure hope so. I really enjoyed what he brought to the team. The big issue, obviously, is that he and Tristan Thompson can’t play together on the defensive end because they are both below-average defenders. In the post, I know the Cavs statistically had a solid post defensive metric, but the two of them just got abused. I think you need a rim-protector. I know a lot of people where against it when the rumors were happening, but you need an Omer Asik-type player in there.
So, if they could solve that defensive issue, I would love to have Spencer back because I think he was exponentially better for this offense than any center the Cavs have had since probably Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
CM: What about Anderson Varejao? He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season and is definitely showing some signs of age, but he is the most popular Cavalier amongst the fans right now. It would be hard to argue that point. Is he back next season?
SS: If you would have asked me before the David Griffin press conference, I would have said 100 percent yes. But David, and I don’t think he intended to do it, when he was asked about cap space, said the team had about $26 million with the potential for a lot more. And I think that potential for a lot more is if they don’t brig back Andy. But to that point, $8 or $8.5 million for a high-energy, box score-filling center who is a leader on the floor and the way his energy transfers to the rest of the team is something that can’t be quantified from a dollar standpoint. The only way I wouldn’t bring him back if you knew that $32 or $34 million you had with him not here could be spent wisely and on a big name that could be part of this thing moving forward for a long time.
Right now, I say yes, he’s back, mostly because of the player he is, the cost of him and the PR hit they would take if they didn’t. But let’s be honest, if he’s not back, it wouldn’t surprise anybody. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy for a full season for the last three years.
CM: Let’s say the Cavaliers magically win the lottery again. Who would you take with the first pick?
SS: I think you’d have to go [Andrew] Wiggins, but I’m a Jabari Parker fan. If Joel Embiid is healthy and you want that big man, I wouldn’t be opposed to him either. But I don’t think you can not go with Andrew Wiggins. We need the wing, we need the athleticism and I think he’s easily the best talent in the draft.
I would love the big man. Embiid is a stud. He’s going to play really well for whoever drafts him. I wish we could have ‘em both, but I’d have to go with Wiggins.