By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
INDEPENDENCE: General Manager Chris Grant is disappointed in the Cavaliers’ 16-29 record and said the team played “terrible” on this recently concluded homestand, but he believes the right pieces are here to turn the season around.
“The lack of effort is just not acceptable,” Grant said. “It’s not who we are and who we want to be. It’s got to be addressed head-on. There’s no excuses for that, but we’ve seen our guys compete and execute consistently and that’s really what we’ve got to do a better job of.”
Grant’s appearance in front of the media Wednesday was rare. It’s just the second time during his tenure, which dates to the summer of 2010, that he addressed reporters in season when it didn’t relate to a trade or trade deadline.
The only other time was Dec. 10, 2010, when the Cavs were in the midst of losing 36-of-37 games.
“We’re in a tough stretch,” Grant said. “We came off that West Coast trip and that Denver game. We played really good basketball and even in this tough stretch we’ve played a half or two of good basketball. Unfortunately, we haven’t played two full halves. All we can do is continue to stress and push that. We know it’s there because we’ve done it and we have to hold people accountable to it.”
Here are excerpts of a wide-ranging interview, including owner Dan Gilbert’s feelings on the season and how active the Cavs will be at the trade deadline:
On how Gilbert feels about this season: “He wants to win. He’s supportive. He understands. He’s very involved — as far as asking questions and debating and talking — but in the right way, what we all would expect. He’s been great, but at the same time, yeah, he wants us to win, as do we.”
On whether coach Mike Brown is connected to this team: “Mike has done a fantastic job with these guys individually. He spends an enormous amount of time watching film with guys, teaching, coaching, so it’s something that I believe he has connected with the guys. I see them respond in practice and you see that connection on the floor.”
On blaming players since the team has struggled under two coaches: “I think it’s way too early to talk about those type of things. We’re just barely halfway through the season with a new coach, a lot of new players, a lot of people trying to understand their roles and trying to fit in, establish a foundation. I just think it’s early. It’s a long season. If we had this press conference a week ago, coming off that Denver game, it feels a little bit different than it does now.”
On Kyrie Irving’s development: “He’s a special young talent, and I think we see him growing and maturing constantly. Even in the last two weeks, I’ve seen a different guy, a different person, trying to lead and do things. Losing hurts him just as much, if not more, than anyone. He’s growing, he’s learning, we’re pushing him, he’s trying to get better. I’ve seen him grow in the last two weeks.”
On Irving’s defense: “Watching him play, particularly in the last couple weeks, I think there’s a different focus to him, which you start to see in players in their third year. … It coincided with Mike. Mike is demanding a lot more of those guys, and they have a lot more expectations on both ends of the court offensively and defensively demanded of them. I think Kyrie, Tristan [Thompson], Dion [Waiters], a lot of the younger guys, see that, feel it and are starting to step up to it.”
On the upcoming trade deadline in three weeks: “We’re not going to make any irrational decisions. We have a team with a lot of talent on it and a ton of flexibility, so I don’t think we should sacrifice those things. I think we’re in a tough stretch. We have to get through that. The world could look very different in a few weeks, but most importantly we have to come out and continue to compete consistently, execute consistently at the right level. If we do that, then the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”