In the aftermath of a historical Finals win, the Cavs shifted their focus from celebrating their first Championship in franchise history to one overarching new objective: Kevin Durant.
In late June 2016, just days after winning one of the most thrilling and historically significant NBA Finals in history, David Griffin, then the Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM, gathered his staff and gave them a directive: Explore ways to get Kevin Durant.
Everyone knew even getting a meeting was a long shot. They would have to gut most of their roster around LeBron James to acquire Durant. But they had to at least do their due diligence.
“I don’t believe you can dream big enough in the NBA,” Griffin says now in recalling that meeting. “You have to go through the exercise.”
When you talk about “Big Threes” and “superteams,” it doesn’t get much better than LeBron, Kyrie, and Durant. Obviously, that dream was far-fetched even before it was even suggested.
We saw Kyrie leave in search of his own spotlight — he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to share one with two other superstars. We saw LeBron leave after a year of misery in Cleveland, in search of bigger opportunity and smarter front-office minds.
Kevin Durant, a guy who just wanted to win on his own terms, certainly would not have been comfortable with the Cavaliers. Instead, he chose the Warriors, a team built on excellence and playing ball the right way.
Truth is, even with LeBron, the Cavs never stood a chance.
Still, you have to commend David Griffin for dreaming big and giving it a shot anyway. Because had he pulled it off, the entire NBA landscape would be drastically different.