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Ferry on resignation: 'It was just the right time'

By David Aldridge, for NBA.com
Posted Jun 4 2010 8:49PM

LOS ANGELES -- On the outside, the Cleveland Cavaliers look like a franchise in disarray. Danny Ferry, now a former member of the organization, insists that that isn't so.

Ferry resigned as the team's general manager Friday, two weeks after the team fired coach Mike Brown and three weeks before the team's franchise player, LeBron James, is poised to enter free agency. Ferry's contract was up June 30 and after discussing his future with team owner Dan Gilbert over the past week or so, Ferry said he and Gilbert mutually decided that Ferry would leave. Ferry's assistant, Chris Grant, was promoted to general manager, with Lance Blanks, also an assistant GM, expected to remain with the organization as well.

"It was just the right time for a lot of reasons," Ferry said Friday afternoon by telephone. "Chris being a part of picking a new coach, my contract expiring. I just thought it was important to have clarity for the team going forward. This team has been pretty damned good the last couple of years, and the last two weeks or so, it hasn't had the strength it's had before, in my mind. It needed to have that strength again."

Several friends of Ferry said Friday that the incredible stress of trying to deliver a championship before James's free-agent summer had worn on Ferry the past three years. No executive has been more active than Ferry, who made major moves in each of the last four years to build a championship-caliber team around James. Last summer, Ferry acquired Shaquille O'Neal from Phoenix, and traded for forward Antawn Jamison for this season's stretch drive.

But the Cavaliers were beaten soundly by Boston in the second round, with James floating listlessly through the crucial Game 5 of the series at Quicken Loans Arena. After the season ended, Ferry indicated he was going to stay with the Cavaliers past this season. But he evidently changed his mind.

"I think he did a lot of soul-searching," one of his closest friends said. "He's got plenty of money. Family is important to him. I think he just wants to step aside and relax."

League sources indicated that Gilbert sought to make internal changes inside the organization that would have limited some of Ferry's decision-making ability, outside of his authority to hire and fire a coach although Ferry, those sources indicated, did not want to fire Brown, the former Spurs, Wizards and Pacers assistant that Ferry had hired as coach in 2005.

Ferry would not comment on specifics with regard to his discussions with Gilbert.

"Dan Gilbert has been phenomenal as an owner," Ferry said. "Something needed to happen, so they could focus on the coach and what they needed to do."

While many will speculate that James had something to do with the decision, he did not. James respected Ferry, who had worked strenuously to improve the team, getting guards Mo Williams and Delonte West through trades in 2008, the same year he drafted forward J.J. Hickson. Last summer, Ferry signed free agent forward Jamario Moon, and traded for O'Neal and guard Anthony Parker.

Ferry said he also wanted to make sure the franchise was in good shape when he left it.

"The last couple of years have been really good," he said. "We just haven't won (a championship). We've won at a high level. We've taken the franchise from one level to another in five years. The franchise should feel good about where it can go moving forward."

Grant, who broke into the league as an intern in the video department for the Hawks, spent nine years with Atlanta, moving up in the organization to vice president and assistant general manager. Ferry brought him to Cleveland in 2005, and the Cavaliers worked hard to keep him from returning to Atlanta in 2008 when the Hawks had a vacancy for their GM position.

Ferry expressed confidence that Grant could hire a new coach.

"We didn't want to lose Chris a couple of years ago," Ferry said. "The main reason Chris is in the gym is because he's good. Continuity is on top of that."

Ferry said he didn't know what he would do next. He still has a home in San Antonio, where he played from 2000 to 2003, and where he spent two years in the front office before taking the Cavaliers' GM job in 2005.

"Would I like to be in the NBA in some shape or fashion? Sure," Ferry said. "But I have five kids and I can spend some time with them, too. Whether it's something in basketball or something else, I'm not in any rush. The experience has been great. At some point I'll think about what's next. But right now, I'm thinking about where to have dinner."

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