No new contract, so Cleveland boss goes

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is guarded by Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson during the recent NBA Finals. The Cavs are likely to look at the possibility of trading Love.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is guarded by Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson during the recent NBA Finals. The Cavs are likely to look at the possibility of trading Love.PHOTO: REUTERS

Team, general manager say exit decision was 'mutual', ex-MVP Billups tipped to take over

WASHINGTON • Exactly one year after the Cavaliers won the National Basketball Association (NBA) crown, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert announced that general manager David Griffin will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of this month.

Gilbert said the decision for Griffin not to return was mutual.

"On behalf of the entire organisation, 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," he said in a statement.

Yahoo Sports reported that former Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups, the 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, is a candidate to replace Griffin.

Team executives will need to work hard as the NBA Draft is on Thursday and a week from Saturday marks the start of free agency for next season.

Cleveland's 4-1 defeat by the Warriors in the NBA Finals earlier this month showed just how far the Cavaliers must improve to match Golden State.

Griffin and Gilbert reportedly did not agree on a future direction for the Cavs' roster, which could be in major flux in the next few days, based on several reports.

Indiana's Paul George, who has told the Pacers he plans to leave when his contract expires after next season, reportedly has drawn interest from the Cavaliers. And Chicago's Jimmy Butler, who like George could serve in a forward or backcourt role depending on needs, is also being eyed by the Cavaliers, according to ESPN, which says both clubs are looking for a third team to facilitate a deal.

George, a four-time All-Star, averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists and 1.6 steals for the Pacers last season. Butler, 27, is coming off a career-best campaign for Chicago that saw him average 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals a game.

In either case, the Cavaliers would likely be looking at trading forward Kevin Love, who together with James and guard Kyrie Irving was responsible for sparking Cleveland's best form in the past three seasons.

James, who has played in the past seven NBA Finals, can become a free agent after next season, making it imperative the Cavaliers make moves now to answer the Warriors' signing of Kevin Durant last year and subsequent epic title run, as well as their 16-1 play-off record this season including a record 15-0 start.

Durant, for his part, will do what he can to help keep a championship roster that includes Andre Iguodala.

Multiple reports have said the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player will opt out of his contract but will re-sign with Golden State in a money-saving move under NBA salary cap rules, thereby making it easier for the champions to re-sign Iguodala.

Durant plans to decline his player option for next season's campaign and join Iguodala in becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, according to reports. The 10-year NBA veteran would then re-sign with the Warriors, the move enabling the team to have more money for contracts with other players.

Durant was to be paid about US$28 million (S$38.8 million) in salary next season, but he will take about US$4 million less than the maximum deal he could have been paid.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'No new contract, so Cleveland boss goes'. Print Edition | Subscribe