Chris Grant knows exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone through this week, mainly because he went through the exact same thing last year.
“Well, the day before any draft, you’re basically exhausted – because you’re planning for the draft, but you’re also planing for free agency, which starts July 1,” the former Cavs general manager said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “So you have these two major things going on at one time that you’re planing for. And in the case of the Cavs – and we were in this position last year – you’re also hiring a coach. You have three major things going on at one time. So generally the day before the draft, you’re exhausted. You’re running on lots of Starbucks, lots of Caribou Coffee and trying to get through the day.”
“But it’s an exciting time obviously having a high pick,” Grant continued. “This year, there’s nine team without a first-round pick, so there could be a lot of action, but it’s definitely exciting the day before. You still have trade conversations going on. You’re still working the bottom end of your draft (in case of a trade), so it’s a very exciting time.”
General managers, of course, are charged with putting a winning product on the court or field. But to what extent is ownership involved in the draft process?
“I’ve worked for a lot of great owners – from Ted Turner to Dan Gilbert, who’s obviously very, very passionate about what’s going on,” Grant said. “Everyone has a different style. Ultimately, you’re hired to make decisions – to make what you think is the best decision for the franchise with the information you have in front of you. But I think at the end of the day, owners do own teams, and part of the fun is moving the chess pieces around. So certainly I think all owners are involved in what’s going on.”
Many of this year’s chess pieces center on LeBron James, who becomes a free agent next Tuesday.
“I think if you’re any team – not just Cleveland, but any team – and you have the ability to clear cap space and get a player like LeBron, you’re going to try to do it,” Grant said. “But you just don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to happen. A lot of people thought he would never leave (Cleveland) last time. He’s been to four straight Finals, so I’m sure people in Miami think he’s not going to leave. But you just don’t know. Free agency can be very interesting. Free agency can change literally in a moment and the plans that you’re playing for can change drastically in 10 minutes. So I think from LeBron’s standpoint, he wants to win. He wants to win championships. He’s going to look at the best talent and the best teams and make a decision from there.”
If Grant had the top pick this year, he’d take Jabari Parker – partially because of Joel Embiid’s health issues and partially because Parker is legit.
“I like Parker,” Grant said. “He’s got the most talent, he’s ready to play, he’s got size, he can play multiple positions, he makes his teammates better, he can shoot, he can handle, he scores from three different levels – I think he’s the best prospect in the draft.”