David Griffin, a former GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers, stated that the Golden State Warriors had a better development as a team than his Cavs while he was in charge there.
Griffin, who is now an executive vice-president of basketball operations in New Orleans, was a guest at Adrian Wojnarowski’s radio show “The Woj pod.” Among other topics, there was one who referred his time spent chasing titles with LBJ and running the Cavs’ organization at the time.
To be honest, Griffin didn’t hesitate in saying that things weren’t sweet as many believed. Everything started when he compared the process of building the team now in New Orleans with the one in Cleveland.
“There was so many things that mattered more than “we” in our team,” said Griffin. “Culturally, we were individuals, and we were trying to gel individuals, rather than raising a family from the beginning.”
New @wojespn pod!! @PelicansNBA EVP of Basketball Operations David Griffin joins to go inside the Anthony Davis trade, the art of the superstar trade, the rapidly changing discipline of #NBA team building, Zion Williamson and more!
— ESPN Podcasts (@espnpodcasts) July 10, 2019
The reason for such a thing was the presence of LeBron James, who came back to Cleveland in search of a title. That pressure of winning a championship forced the franchise to have immediate results. It prevented the development of the team in terms of creating chemistry between the players, which will stay there for some time. It was a “must-win now” situation.
“It just wasn’t organic, it wasn’t real,” former GM told Wojnarowski, explaining that when team added LeBron to the already present core, their growth stopped because everything that mattered were the results. The team building spirit was interrupted, and the policy of finding a fitting player was more desirable than to create one.
“That experience is so unlike anything I ever hope to have again from a team-building stand of point, because it wasn’t organic in any way…it was 0 to 100, you better win.”
Griffin and Woj agreed that the Cavs made their team by trading and going way above the salary cap, because the owners were willing to pay the luxury tax. The title practically came to Ohio not because Cavs had some team which grew and developed together, but totally the opposite. Now that is something Griffin wants to avoid in New Orleans.
As a positive example, he mentioned Golden State, whose core was together from the beginning and went through ups and downs in order to reach heights. They, unlike the Cavs, learned their lessons together, by losing and winning.
“Golden State had a nucleus together in Klay, Steph, and Draymond, that went through battles together; they lost together, they started to really bond in losing together, and then they were able to figure out to win together, and they cherished that journey a little bit differently than our guys did.”
It is definitely going to be interesting to see LeBron’s reaction on this. And the reaction of all the other players from that generation, especially because of Griffin’s comments that the process of building one championship team is more beautiful than winning the title.
While listening to the podcast, it could be noticed that Griffin hopes not to have the same way towards the championship with the Pelicans as he had with LeBron and the Cavs. His goal is to make a franchise who will have a recognizable culture around itself and named the San Antonio Spurs and the New England Patriots as good examples.
Though he never mentioned those four years with LeBron in Cleveland as something negative, his narrative was not positive also.
Since Griffin landed in Louisiana, the Pelicans got the No.1 pick and drafted Zion Williams. Then they traded Antony Davis to the Lakers, and in return got a bunch of excellent young players and a No.4 pick which they later converted into two lower picks. Right now, New Orleans has one of the youngest starting lineups in the league, but enormously talented.
For Griffin, that is a perfect situation to replicate Golden State’s path towards the NB title.