Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin could be a target of the Orlando Magic as they begin their search to replace GM Rob Hennigan, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported Friday.
The architect of the Cavs’ 2016 NBA championship, Griffin is working without a contract for next season and league sources told Wojnarowski that talks on a new deal have been stalled for months.
The fact that the Cavs have left Griffin in limbo while spending an NBA-high $126.6 million on players’ salaries and signing coach Tyronn Lue to a reported five-year, $35 million contract has led league executives to believe that Griffin could be lured away after the Cavs finish the playoffs, The Vertical said.
According to Wojnarowski, Magic CEO Alex Martins and other top team officials are intrigued by the possibility of getting Griffin. Martins is a former Browns vice president of communications.
The Vertical reported that the Magic are using Jed Hughes of the search firm of Korn Ferry as they develop a candidate list, but that Martins has been “significantly engaged.” Hughes was a Browns assistant under coach Bud Carson and was used by Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam in the hiring of coach Hue Jackson and vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry.
Magic assistant GM Matt Lloyd is working as the interim and will be a candidate to replace Hennigan, who was fired on April 13 after the team went 132-278, second-worst in the NBA over the last five seasons. Hennigan was 30, making him the league’s youngest GM, when he was hired in June, 2012.
Cavaliers star LeBron James endorsed Griffin’s efforts in an interview with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin for a story posted in early April.
"It makes no sense why he shouldn't get an extension," James told McMenamin. "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."
James speculated that Griffin remained without a long-term contract because of the presumption that James is running the team.
"Obviously they always want to bring my name into it and say that obviously, it's easier because guys want to be here because I'm here," James told McMenamin. "But at the end of the day, he still has to press the right buttons because I'm not in the war room, I'm not in the draft room with those [front office] guys. I don't know how much we may be over the luxury tax or if we have a trade exception here or how that's going to work there or how many days we got to do this. So, it wouldn't, seriously, I don't know why it would make any sense to bring in a new GM. That don't make no sense."
Lue has spoken glowingly of Griffin on several occasions, marveling at the Cavs’ acquisition of Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, Kyle Korver and Andrew Bogut this season, although Bogut fractured his tibia 58 seconds into his debut.
“When you have a team this talented, Griff’s done a helluva job,” Lue said before a March 3 game in Atlanta. “To acquire D-Will 2, D-Will 1, Korver and Bogut without having any money, that’s an amazing job. Every time someone goes down … Even last year, the year before when (Timofey Mozgov) and J.R. (Smith) and those guys came in, he just always seems to work his magic when we need it.”