Report: There Were Weeks Where LeBron’s Agent and David Griffin ‘Drove Each Other Nuts’

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Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is set to become executive vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans and that certainly brings back memories of his time with the Cavaliers.

One frequent interaction he had while with the Cavs was with agent Rich Paul, who currently represents Anthony Davis, the Pelicans’ superstar big man.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic looked at the history between Griffin and Paul and, how despite some contentious moments, that could possibly convince Davis to sign a five-year, $240 million supermax contract extension.

One of those situations dealt with Griffin’s inability to convince Paul’s most prominent client, LeBron James, to sign for more than one year at a time during his first two seasons back. That forced Griffin to improvise when it came to establishing a long-term plan for the franchise.

“There were days (and weeks) where Griffin and Paul drove each other nuts,” wrote Vardon. “Remember, LeBron’s first two seasons back with Cleveland were played on one-year deals, which the Cavs felt really hamstrung their ability to plan long term.”

In addition, there were lengthy holdouts by two other Cavaliers and Paul clients, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. Eventually, Thompson signed an $82 million, five-year deal and Smith agreed to a $57 million, four-year deal. Those contracts have restricted what the Cavs have been able to do to improve their roster over the past few years.

While Griffin did have the occasional stumble in making deals, his past history in building a championship team for a superstar could give him credibility in trying to convince Davis to stay. The 49-year-old executive may not be able to change Davis’ mind, but he’s plugged into the league enough to find the best deal possible if a trade becomes necessary.

The possibility of watching a superstar walk away from a franchise is something that Griffin is familiar with, having joined the Cavaliers in September 2010. That was two months after James announced his departure for Miami, leaving an unprepared organization in his wake.

Griffin joined as then-general manager Chris Grant’s assistant and would later describe his arrival with this jarring analogy:

“Going to Cleveland after LeBron left was like jumping into a burning building.”

Yet, once he was promoted to general manager in 2014, he made the moves that sent the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for four consecutive years. In 2016, the Cavs captured their first and only league title, which is the sort of pedigree that might connect with his new superstar.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.