Koby Altman was appointed interim general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 19, 2017 after David Griffin and the Cavs mutually parted ways.
LeBron James has been on record saying that Kyrie Irving’s trade request was the beginning of the end of his second run with the Cavs. Altman’s sixth move as general manager was trading Irving to the Boston Celtics for Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Ante Žižić, a 1st round draft pick (Collin Sexton was later selected by the Cavs) and a 2020 2nd round draft pick. (2020 2nd-rd pick from BOS to CLE is MIA’s pick, and was added as compensation for Thomas’s injury)
It’s true that Altman wasn’t given the best circumstances to begin with. But he hasn’t exactly shown too much improvement on the job since becoming the full-time GM on July 24, 2017. The Irving trade, for one, was a disaster. Thomas only played in 15 games with the Cavs and wasn’t a good fit next to LeBron since he wasn’t explosive anymore following his serious hip injury.
Signing Dwyane Wade seemed like a good move since he was reuniting with James. But Wade’s presence made JR Smith uncomfortable and Wade reportedly was a locker room issue with the Cavs since he wasn’t fully vested into the team. LeBron supposedly caught Wade watching Heat games in the Cleveland locker room a lot.
Trading Wade to the Heat was a good move by Altman. Only because it got Wade out of the locker room and he couldn’t be a distraction anymore. Getting Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, George Hill and Larry Nance Jr. at the 2018 trade deadline and parting ways with Derrick Rose, Thomas and Crowder were good moves at the time to get more shooters around James. Those trades helped the Cavs win the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals over the Celtics in seven games.
After getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Finals, James left for the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year deal. The next logical step for Altman was to trade power forward Kevin Love, get some assets in return and embark on a full rebuild.
Instead, Koby Altman gave an aging Love a lucrative contract extension which really made no sense. Everyone around the league knew Love was declining as a player and wasn’t an All-Star talent anymore.
Firing head coach Tyronn Lue, trading Kyle Korver and Hill were some of the other moves Altman made during the 2018-19 season. Selecting Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. in last year’s draft appear to have been good moves, but those guys are rookies and only time will tell if they will turn out to be good picks for the Cavs.
The hiring of John Beilein, though, was a huge disaster. The guy lasted 54 games in the NBA and was so miserable he had no problem walking away from $12 million. You can’t really blame Altman for Beilein’s inability to coach grown men, but that’s something he could have evaluated better during his coaching search.
The door is sort of open on Altman’s tenure with the Cavs so far. Acquiring Andre Drummond from the Detroit Pistons for essentially spare parts looked good on paper, but having Drummond, Tristan Thompson and Love on the roster at the same time really makes no basketball sense.
Thompson becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Drummond has a player option which he is expected to pick up.
Koby Altman would be smart to let Thompson walk in free agency and try and trade Love again, no matter how low his value has dropped.