Who will new Cavs GM pick as coach?

May, 12, 2014
May 12
6:28
PM ET
When the press release landed at 3:17 p.m. ET Monday afternoon, you had to read it a few times to believe it.

Even after all of this season's toxicity in Cleveland.

Could Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, even with those famously deep pockets, really stomach firing Mike Brown just one year into a five-year remarriage?

Now we know the answer after mostly silence from Gilbert since the season ended.

The aforementioned announcement dispatched by the Cavs to start the new week, if not quite Manziel-ian, ranks as a double-fisted whopper. Stuffed into the same paragraph as the news that David Griffin has been formally named Cleveland's full-time general manager was the revelation that Brown "has been released" as Cavs coach.

Without warning.

It's certainly not a shocker in terms of pure performance. Gilbert's willingness to rehire Brown after his flameout with the Lakers was roundly questioned at the time and quickly generated buyer's remorse when the Cavs descended into chaos, lowlighted by Brown's clashes with star guard Kyrie Irving.

Still ...

Gilbert had to swallow a borderline unprecedented four years of guaranteed salary to Brown to give the freshly installed Griffin free rein to bring in his own man ... and make it clear to Irving in the process that the Cavs are prepared to do whatever it takes to get him to sign that max extension between July 1 and Halloween. Mere days after the 2012-13 season, you'll recall, Gilbert awarded Brown a five-year, $20 million deal and insisted to the world that firing him the first time -- shortly before LeBron James' exodus to Miami -- was a mistake.


But now you know why the Cavs' GM job, for all the skepticism (and worse) Gilbert routinely attracts, appealed to many candidates beyond Griffin. The Cavs not only have the mercurial Irving in place to try to (re)build around but also an owner who's willing to spend like few of his peers.

Which means the well-respected Griff, as everyone knows him, will have the opportunity to bring in the coach of his choosing to take charge of a squad that features no shortage of highly drafted youngsters (Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett) before we even get to Irving.

The immediate buzz in coaching circles, in terms of potential Brown replacements, has focused on various coaches Griffin worked with as a Phoenix Suns executive: Alvin Gentry, Vinny Del Negro and, yes, Mike D'Antoni. Available veterans such as Lionel Hollins, George Karl and Mark Jackson are likewise quickly connected to any opening these days -- with USA Today's Sam Amick also listing Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin as a top candidate -- but you're advised to keep an eye on Gentry.

Currently an assistant to Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers, Gentry is well-versed in the spread-the-floor style Griffin is said to favor and is widely expected to get one more head-coaching shot after his success with the Suns as D'Antoni's successor.

What can be said without hesitation, at this early juncture, is that David Griffin is the guy who'll get to take this search in any direction he wants, all thanks to Gilbert's at-any-price willingness to remove the coach connected to Griffin predecessor Chris Grant.

And you'd have to say, expensive as that loaded press release was, that the Cavs are making the call they have to make here. If the Irving/Brown relationship was indeed unsavable, with all those extension talks looming, it's far wiser to let Griffin start over to try to keep building on what is said to be a promising early connection with the young Team USA stalwart.

Better to let him put his stamp on the Cavs' bench, no matter who did or didn't see this coming, before Griffin launches into this summer's crucial phase of roster renovations.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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