Another take on Danny Ferry’s departure

Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports is no fan of LeBron James. He has made that clear with some scathing articles on LeBron and his posse over the past several weeks. His criticisms are often legitimate, as LeBron has shown that he’s a spoiled egomaniac who crumbled under the pressure this year in the playoffs.

That said, LeBron is one of the most significant talents in NBA history. Whether he achieves the highest levels of greatness remains to be seen, but we all know the NBA is built around star players, and LeBron still has the potential to grow up and become one of the greats.

With that in mind, here’s Adrian’s take on the Danny Ferry situation.

What’s been lost for the Cavaliers is the strong, steady leadership they had with Ferry and coach Mike Brown. Gilbert was honest with Ferry: He wanted to take back control and involve himself with everything again. Before Ferry was hired as GM, it wasn’t uncommon for Gilbert to pass notes to the bench for substitutions he wanted Paul Silas to make. Ferry had come out of San Antonio, and believed an orderly structure made for successful, winning organizations.

“LeBron never had to come out and say that he wanted Brown and Ferry gone,” one front-office executive familiar with the Cavs’ dynamic said. “But the anti-Brown and anti-Ferry sentiment from LeBron’s crowd was loud and clear to Dan Gilbert. He knew where LeBron stood.”

Ferry convinced Gilbert to step back, let him do his job. But more and more, the owner’s impulsive need to inject himself into everything took over the franchise. Most of all, Gilbert had become the biggest enabler of LeBron James and his inner circle, and that only promises to get worse. Ferry never loved the players’ pregame skits, the hiring of James’ buddies, the associates’ riding on the team plane, but Gilbert seldom said no to anything. He behaved like the permissive parent who believed his kid would love him more if he spoiled him rotten. And it got the Cavs a superstar, James, who never respected anyone and a cast of associates who had the run of the place. Had James wanted Ferry to still be the GM, Gilbert would’ve backed down and Ferry would have a new contract.

“Danny’s been miserable for the past two years,” a friend of his told Yahoo! Sports. “Even if they kept LeBron, do you still lose for winning there anyway?”

Ferry fought to retain Brown, but Gilbert, a staunch Michigan State man, is determined to hire away Tom Izzo. Unless James tells him he wants John Calipari, and then they’ll hire John Calipari. As much as anything, the Cavaliers are giving the franchise completely over to James and his inner circle now. Whatever he wants to stay, he’ll get. Now, Ferry isn’t there to play the wet blanket anymore. He never feared fighting Gilbert on issues because he had stature, money and, truth be told, he didn’t need the job.

I think he’s being too tough on Dan Gilbert. Has Gilbert enabled LeBron, his ego and his posse? Of course he has, but you have little choice in the NBA to do that with a star of LeBron’s caliber. Ferry may not have liked it, but the San Antonio model is tough to replicate entirely – they have a superstar who doesn’t have much of an ego. That’s very rare.

What Adrian doesn’t address is that Mike Brown was LeBron’s biggest enabler. Sure, he turned LeBron into a defensive player, but he had little control over LeBron during the games. He never disciplined LeBron for taking idiotic 3-pointers at critical points in the game without setting up the offense. LeBron ran the show, so the decision to get a new coach is one of the few things Gilbert could do to possibly control LeBron. Also, Brown’s performance in the playoffs was terrible this year. If Ferry was going to side with Brown, I don’t blame Gilbert for moving on.

Also, an owner who invests this much money has to have a team approach to the roster. He is putting up millions to get over the hump, and a GM needs to be on board with that. Ferry’s notion of total control make little sense in a setting where Gilbert is paying huge amounts in luxury tax money.

In the end, Gilbert is doing the right thing in trying to keep LeBron. Brown and Ferry are dispensable.

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Danny Ferry resigns as Cavs GM


Photo from fOTOGLIF

The photo above shows Danny Ferry in happier times, joking around with Shaquille O’Neal as he is introduced to the Cleveland media during a news conference at the Cavaliers’ practice facility last year.

The O’Neal experiment didn’t lead to a title, but I won’t say that Danny Ferry’s move didn’t work. The Cavs were favored to win it heading into the playoffs, and Ferry and O’Neal can’t be blamed for the LeBron James meltdown.

Unfortunately, things still didn’t work as planned, and Ferry surprisingly resigned today. I didn’t expect this, though when reading the article the reasons became a little more clear.

Ferry still wanted control of the roster, and he argued to keep Mike Brown. Dan Gilbert probably wanted a little more input, and he certainly didn’t want to keep Brown. In that respect he made the right move letting Ferry go. Ferry made some good moves, and he made some mistakes. But he put together a team that should have won it all.

I wasn’t aware of this, but the Cavs have an assistant GM in Chris Grant who is more than ready to step up and take Ferry’s place. At least there will be come continuity as the Cavs face the most important off-season in team history.

Z is a class act

Zydrunas Ilgauskas was allowed to play tonight and was given the chance to break the Cavs record for most games played. For a man who has endured numerous foot injuries, it’s quite an accomplishment. Z spoke briefly after the game and clearly didn’t want to dwell on Mike Brown’s brain fart the other night when Z got the first DNP-Coach’s Decision of his career.

When he finally stepped on the court, breaking Danny Ferry’s Cavaliers record for games played, the fans rose and clapped, giving Ilgauskas a standing ovation for the full duration of the Cavaliers’ offensive possession. They stood and screamed and yelled out “Zeeee” in deep baritones from every corner of the arena, from the floor to the rafters.

“That was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in my life, and also the closest I’ve probably come to tears on the basketball floor,” Ilgauskas said. “I very much appreciate it and thank them.”

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“Obviously I was very disappointed that I didn’t play in the last game,” he said. “I know I’m a good player. I think by me playing in that game, I would not have affected the outcome of the game. What made me more disappointed and upset were the acts that followed. This whole mess that has been created.

“I’m not going to go into any details. Once again, I’m going to be a bigger man and walk away from this. I know when I go to bed at night, my conscience is clear. What I’m going to do is continue to do my job. I love this team, I love my teammates; they’re like a family to me. I’m going to come every day to work and try my hardest, win some games and hope to bring a championship to this city because they deserve it.”

Z has always been a class act. Hopefully he and the others can win a championship for the city.

Terry Pluto looks back on how the Cavs found Z back in the day in a nice profile.

Photo from fOTOGLIF