Why did the Cavaliers fire Chris Grant?

USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers fired Chris Grant on Thursday, but what's in the rearview mirror? A series of poor draft picks and free agent signings that doomed Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers want to go in a new direction, because at this point, it can't get much worse. Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant was fired by owner Dan Gilbert on Thursday, and now comes the salvaging of a 16-33 team that's already rumored to have internal tensions.

Grant's tenure lasted just more than three years, and it will be looked upon as a difficult but disappointing one. He took over about a month before LeBron James' historic decision, and though that wasn't on Grant, what followed became a growing list of middling decision-making.

Coaching hires

Grant's first big play as a general manager was hiring coach Byron Scott, who won 23, 32 and 29 percent of his games in three seasons at the helm of a post-LeBron roster. Mike Brown, the replacement once Grant fired Scott after last season, is currently 16-33 in his first season, which comes out to a winning percentage of 33 percent.

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The first way to look at the poor results is to suggest that part of the struggles by the Cavs' young players could be attributed to the coaching staff. Why hasn't Anthony Bennett been given a confidence boost with a D-League assignment, and why hasn't he been put in a position to succeed with Cleveland? Why has Dion Waiters failed to improve?

The other way to look at it: The coaching staff hasn't been given enough talent to win.

Drafting Kyrie

If there's one thing Grant did well, it was putting the Cavs in a position to strike gold. He dumped salaries and even took on a big one to set Cleveland up for future success. A trade with the Clippers in February of 2011 sent Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to Los Angeles in exchange for a first-round pick and Baron Davis' pricy contract -- Davis was later amnestied. That draft pick would turn into Kyrie Irving, the 2011 draft's No. 1 overall pick, who became an All-Star in his second season.

Grant acquired a good deal of draft picks in three seasons. The issue, then, was in how Cleveland used them and then failed to put talent around them.

The other lottery picks

Cleveland didn't own a pick in the 2010 draft, Grant's first after taking over for Danny Ferry. Since, he has compiled enough draft picks to build a talented core, but too many lottery opportunities have been disappointing.

In 2012, the Cavs selected Waiters fourth overall out of Syracuse despite question marks about his defensive abilities. Waiters played in a zone defense for coach Jim Boeheim and didn't even start for the Orange. The shooting guard didn't even work out for Cleveland -- he shut down his tryouts after being guaranteed a lottery selection. And it didn't help that the Cavs left forward Harrison Barnes on the board. This season, Waiters has been involved in multiple locker room issues.

More on Grant's firing

Tyler Zeller, the 2012 NBA Draft's 17th overall pick, has struggled to become a consistent rotation player in two seasons, and the Andrew Bynum signing took a chunk of his minutes early on this year. And Bennett, the first overall pick from the 2013 draft, is putting together maybe the worst season for a top pick.

Tristan Thompson, who isn't even 23 years old, was controversially taken three picks after Irving in 2011. As a double-double threat, he can arguably be lumped with Irving as one of the successful picks during Grant's tenure.

The 2013 panic moves

Aside from Irving acting as dynamic point guard and Anderson Varejao bringing energy in the paint, Cleveland hasn't created roles for players nor chased after players who can play in niches.

When the edict of a playoff run was put on Grant by Gilbert leading into 2013-14, Grant made a number of moves that have not worked out. Bringing on veteran talent wasn't one of Grant's strong suits.

Since James' departure, the small forward and shooting guard positions have been manned by Omri Casspi, Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles. The Cavs have traded away decent enough talents like Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson to open up cap space or acquire draft picks that haven't panned out.

Outside of drafting Irving, the 2013 offseason additions of Jarrett Jack and Bynum were arguably the most significant talent additions in three years -- read that again -- but the Bynum signing was also the most risky because of his injury issues.

The Bynum addition first looked underwhelming because he struggled offensively and wasn't the rim-protecting presence the Cavs envisioned, but it turned into a bigger flop because of chemistry issues. That led to the team jettisoning the center before trading him for forward Luol Deng. The presence of an above-average swingman hasn't helped -- Cleveland has gone 5-10 since Deng's arrival but even if the situation does improve, the trade came too little, too late for Grant.

Jack is shooting just 40 percent and has failed to find traction in the framework of the current roster.

***

At the end of Grant's three-year tenure, the lack of positive results came down to one thing. The general manager didn't sign, trade for or draft and develop enough talent to make the Cavs a respectable team. Reports have surfaced that Irving is unhappy, and his play might be mirroring any dissatisfaction. The third-year point guard's field goal shooting has dipped in each season and stands at 42.6 percent as he's taken to playing 1-on-5 ball.

It's Grant, however, who takes the fall for failing to provide his star with support.

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