Cavs cut ties with GM David Griffin; Chauncey Billups a possible candidate?

The Cleveland Cavaliers will not to renew the contract of general manager David Griffin, the team announced Monday.

Griffin’s contract was set to expire at the end of June, and the two parties “just couldn’t agree on future,” the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The report also mentions ex-Detroit Pistons great Chauncey Billups as an emerging candidate for the vacancy.

The team released the following statement regarding Griffin’s departure:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and its General Manager, David Griffin, have mutually decided not to extend David’s current contract, which ends June 30, 2017. 

On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Griff for his leadership and many contributions during his time here, including most recently, his role in the franchise’s first NBA championship.

We have no announcement at this time related to new leadership of the Cavaliers basketball operations group, but we are confident our current front office will continue to aggressively explore and pursue opportunities to improve our team in the weeks ahead.

The news that Griffin will not return comes at an incredibly interesting time for the Cavaliers. Not only are the Cavs entering one of the most crucial offseasons in history of the franchise following a loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, but the team is also gearing up for LeBron James’ impending free agency in 2018.

Additionally, Cleveland has been actively involved in trade talks as recently as Monday afternoon. When news that Paul George would not re-sign with Indiana in 2018 was reported Sunday, in fact, Cleveland was one of the teams engaged with the Pacers about acquiring him. Monday afternoon, the Cavaliers were actively exploring trade options to potentially acquire Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler.

Griffin had this to say in a statement to ESPN on Monday evening.

“As of today, I am stepping down from my role as GM of the Cavs. Our basketball family, at the CCC and at the Q has experienced unprecedented success together both on the floor and off and I remain deeply appreciative of the opportunity Dan Gilbert and his ownership group afforded us to build and lead this world-championship caliber organization. I am certain that the organization and the incredibly dedicated and passionate team that puts their heart and souls into this daily, will continue to push towards even greater heights. My wife, Meredith and I will continue to be vested in the success of Believeland and can’t thank the fans of this great city enough for the kindness you all have shown us. I am extremely excited for my next challenge in the NBA, however, Dan and I know now that are a team built largely on the concept of fit and we are now at a point where the fit is not right for us to continue with one another.”

David Aldridge of Turner Sports also reported that Griffin was “elbow deep” in constructing a deal to bring Butler to Cleveland, which makes Cleveland’s decision to part ways with its GM a head-scratcher.

Griffin’s expiring contract has been a point of contention in Cleveland and in trade discussions alike. Wojnarowski reports that the Cavs front office had “difficulty in trade talks this week” because of Griffin’s uncertainty with the organization.

Cavs superstar LeBron James has publicly endorsed Griffin and made it clear he wished for him to return, too. Here’s what he said back in April:

“It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension. He’s pulled every move — he’s tried to make every move happen — to better this team to be able to compete for a championship. So we wouldn’t be in this position, obviously, without him and without the guys that are here — from the coaching staff to the players to Griff. He’s been a big piece of it.”

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