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The way NBA Finals 2017 is going, Cavaliers GM David Griffin has two games left on contract

By Joe Vardon • Jun 6, 2017 at 2:30 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The way NBA Finals 2017 is going, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has two games left on his contract.

The Cavs were of course crushed again by the Warriors Sunday in Game 2, 132-113. Although this one was closer for longer than Cleveland's 22-point loss in Game 1, the Warriors haven't been nervous in either game and were able to laugh off 20 turnovers in a Finals contest against the defending champs.

Griffin's contract and future with the franchise are of virtually no concern inside the locker room right now, where players and coaches -- with the input of Griffin and his front-office staff -- are trying to figure out how they get a game against the Warriors and try to sway some of the momentum.

But who will be running the Cavs next season, maybe in a fourth straight Finals against these same Warriors, and who might be making the roster changes to perhaps better equip the Cavs for a series against an impossible lineup that features four All-Stars, is unresolved.

Griffin's contract expires June 30. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has not made any public comments about bringing Griffin back, and through a spokesman has declined to even discuss it.

But sources close to the team say Gilbert is giving indication of his intentions as they relate to Griffin, and one source who works with both Gilbert and Griffin would only say "I hope (Griffin) gets a new deal. He deserves it."

Gilbert's actions might suggest he intends to keep Griffin, but on the owner's terms.

Two franchises, the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, asked for permission to speak with Griffin about vacancies to run their organizations and were denied. It is unclear if the Milwaukee Bucks ever asked Gilbert for permission to interview Griffin for their vacancy, but the Bucks were interested in him and yet appear to be moving forward with other candidates to interview.

According to a report by The Vertical, Griffin's name was not among those candidates.

With potential suitors off the table, Gilbert has placed Griffin in a position to largely accept an offer on his terms or be out of work next season.

Griffin will seek a significant raise -- he's made less than $2 million annually, according to sources, which is low, especially for the GM of a team that has played in the last three Finals and is a defending champion.

The two sides have not discussed financial terms of any new contract, sources said, though there have been discussions during the playoffs about work flow and other organizational issues of interest to both Gilbert and Griffin.

Cleveland has no draft picks in the 2017 draft, which is June 22, and has not worked out any college players. But sources insist the front office is ready in the event of a trade offer or opportunity to buy a draft pick.

The Cavs' payroll of $128 million is the NBA's highest, though through two games of the Finals what they've spent hasn't been enough to deal with a team that added to the mix of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson a player like Kevin Durant, a former league MVP in the prime of his career.

Kyle Korver is the Cavs' top free agent heading into the offseason. Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, and James Jones also will be free agents, but among them only Korver would be in line for a multiyear contract equal to or above the roughly $5.2 million he's making this season.

Teams will gauge the Cavs' interest in dealing Kevin Love, who through two games against the Warriors has acquitted himself well.

Love scored 27 points and shot 12-of-23 from the field with seven rebounds. Draymond Green, widely expected to beat up Love in a head-to-head matchup, has not been the reason the Cavs are down two games.

But the next GM, whether it's Griffin or someone else, would have to decide (with Gilbert's blessing) if the Cavs, as constructed, with tinkering, can play the Warriors, or if moving a player like Love and getting back entirely new pieces is necessary.

Next summer James will almost surely opt out of his current three-year, $100 million contract and seek a contract as high as $209 million. This is also largely a Gilbert decision, but one heavily influenced by a GM such as Griffin (or someone else) -- whether to invest that kind of money in James as his career winds down (he'll be 33 at the time with 15 seasons in the books).

James has been largely complimentary of Griffin, and his relationship with Gilbert is tenuous.

"Ah well he's done a great job of putting the pieces together for this franchise to compete for a championship, and that's all you can ask for," James said recently.

James posted a triple-double Sunday in Game 2, with 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. So did Curry (32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists), making them the first two players in Finals history to have triple-doubles in the same game.

Durant was sensational again, following up his 38 points from Game 1 with 33 in Game 2.

As James has said, Durant makes the Warriors an entirely different team from the one the Cavs faced in the last two Finals.

Cleveland's goal in Game 2 was to play better. Now, as the series shifts to The Q and Griffin's future here sits in limbo, the Cavs probably have to think about playing differently. Maybe start Iman Shumpert over J.R. Smith, play slower, continue to use Korver.

By the way, Griffin has traded for all three of them.

"I don't want to get into the 'What we need to do better' right now," James said. "The game is too fresh. We're going to going home and watch the film to see ways we can be better.

"Do things -- I don't want to say differently because you work so hard to get to this point -- but make a couple of changes to see if we can be a lot better defensively and offensively."

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