It said that timing is everything. Chris Grant would probably agree.
The former Cavs general manager was hired in June 2010 – one month before LeBron James left for Miami. Grant was then fired in February 2014 – five months before James returned to Cleveland.
“Obviously we had some great teams when he was here the first time around and were very successful getting to the NBA Finals,” Grant said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think one year we won 61, another year we won 66 and were really moving in the right direction. Obviously LeBron leaves and being from here – and this story’s been told a million times – it was tough on the organization and it was tough on the city. We quickly refocused and moved forward.”
Ironically, one of the first players the Cavs signed was Kyle Lowry.
“He was with Houston at the time,” Grant said. “We signed him to a restricted deal, Houston ended up keeping him and we went into that season and ended up making the trade with the Clippers. We traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for Baron Davis and the rights to their No. 8 pick, which became No. 1.”
That No. 1 pick became Kyrie Irving.
“We were lucky enough to kind of turn the page pretty quickly,” Grant said. “That same year, we added Tristan Thompson and we kept adding draft picks and more assets. As we got down the road, we had no idea that (James) would return, but we felt like if we built the team with young, high-variance talented players that were on rookie deals, we’d have a chance to have good young players like Kyrie and Tristan and some of the others and also have cap space.”
It helps that Miami lost to San Antonio in the 2014 NBA Finals. It also helps that Miami lost those four games by an average of 18 points.
“If they didn’t lose, I don’t think he returns,” Grant said, “but that opened up the door and he came back.”
Only Grant didn’t get to be a part of Act II, which has featured one NBA Finals appearance and, in all likelihood, another. The Cavs are 10-1 in the playoffs and lead the Raptors 2-1 entering Monday’s Game 4.
Grant, however, has a good attitude about his time in Cleveland.
“It was fun to be part of it with him the first time,” he said. “It was tough obviously as we were rebuilding the team, but it’s been nice to watch and see them put it all back together and (to have) been part of putting that (initial plan in place).”