Members of the Cavaliers’ team, coaching staff, and front office are beginning to resemble The Shawshank Redemption at the 1995 Oscars.
That is to say, they have been shut out.
But like Shawshank, which entered the Oscars with seven nominations, the Cavaliers have struck out.
The most recent shortcoming came by way of Executive of the Year.
Memphis Grizzlies General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Zach Kleiman won the award convincingly, earning 85 total points.
Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman tied with Chicago Bulls’ Executive Vice President Artūras Karnišovas for runner-up with 27 points apiece.
And on Friday, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert weighed into the conversation, lauding his man on the season and promising future.
And thankfully, it included a genuine congrats to Kleiman (looking at you Kanye):
Our own President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman finished tied for second in NBA Executive of the Year. Congratulations to the winner, Memphis Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman. Our injuries hurt Koby's chances to win this thing. I believe he will be a top contender again next year
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) May 13, 2022
Look, Kleiman deserved the award.
And it’s been one in the works for Kleiman for a few years.
At 33, he’s the youngest exec to win the prestigious front office honors.
But it’s not the first time his name has appeared on the shortlist.
Three seasons ago, Kleiman finished in sixth place for Executive of the Year.
That season, Kleiman was coming off his first campaign at the helm of the Grizzlies.
He also oversaw the sale of former franchise icons in Michael Conley and Marc Gasol, in an attempt to rebuild the roster.
And three short seasons later, the Grizzlies look to be contenders out West for years to come.
They fell just short of the Western Conference Finals, losing to a seasoned Golden State Warriors team four games to two.
But the Grizzlies are still stacked.
Everyone knows of Ja Morant’s immense talent.
But down the roster, there are quality starters – emphasis on STAR.
Even if Jaren Jackson, Jr. doesn’t become an offensive dynamo, his defense alone is probably going to be enough to make the NBA’s First Team All-Defense.
And at times, Desmond Bane looked less like Robin and more like a bonafide Batman.
Oh, and the team didn’t skip a beat without Morant on the floor, going 20-5 in regular season games without their star guard.
The depth is beyond impressive.
And it’s a testament to Kleiman and Co.’s ability to identify talented players who can mesh well.
Koby Could He?
Altman finishing second is no small potatoes.
It’s a recognition of his own work to build a competitive Cavaliers team lightyears ahead of the rebuilding schedule.
Grizzlies Zach Kleiman wins Executive of the Year
Arturas Karnisovas ties Koby Altman for 2nd place pic.twitter.com/Gc6i7jn60J
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) May 12, 2022
And Dan Gilbert is right: had Mobley and Allen (and Rubio and Sexton) stayed healthy, Altman would have had a much better shot than a distant second.
But Kleiman’s lineup depth made up for games without Ja.
And the Mobley and Allen-less Cavs couldn’t keep up.
Regardless, Gilbert is spot-on that Altman will be in the conversation for seasons to come.
Who knows, maybe he’s the next front office head to finish just short, only to go on to win honors down the road.
Let’s just hope it’s sooner than three years.