Cavs GM: 'We're all accountable'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers' season is slipping away, if it's not gone already.

General manager Chris Grant just knows it needs to stop. Now.

"We're all accountable for it, including myself," he said. "It's frustrating. It's disappointing to our fans. The fans deserve better."

Making a rare midseason appearance before the media to address some of Cleveland's most pressing issues, Grant said he's troubled by the team's will in recent games.

"The lack of effort is just not acceptable," Grant said after Wednesday's practice. "It's not who we are and who we want to be. It's got to be addressed head on. There's no excuse for that, but we've seen our guys compete and execute consistently, and that's really what we've got to do a better job of."

Cleveland completed a 1-4 homestand with a 100-89 loss to New Orleans on Tuesday night. After the performance, which followed an even worse one against Phoenix, coach Mike Brown questioned the players' motivation.

"Our competitive spirit is nonexistent," said Brown, whose second stint with Cleveland has been a disappointment through 45 games. "Maybe I need to shake some things up."

Perhaps prompted by Brown's remarks, Grant made himself available to reporters during the season for the first time in more than three years for something other than to comment on a trade.

Grant said there is plenty of blame to be shared for Cleveland's sorry state. The Cavs are 16-29 and currently out of the playoff race in the weak Eastern Conference.

"We've seen the guys do it. We've seen guys play and execute and try to do the things coaches are asking them to do," Grant said. "When you have a team, you're trying to establish the foundation and grow and do things, and there's times of adversity. There's times when it's hard. That's when it's time to bear down, work and get after it.

"That's what we have to do right now. We owe that to our fans. We're all accountable for it. Everybody wants to win, every coach, the front office, all the way down."

Grant didn't rule out making changes before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

"We're a team that's always looking to improve ourselves. I'm never going to say we're never going to do anything," Grant said. "That's not our focus right now. Our focus is, 'Hey, we've got some talent on this team, and we've got to get them to play more consistent.'"

The Cavs begin a three-game trip Thursday in New York. They'll also visit Houston and Dallas.

After Tuesday's loss, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said he and his teammates believe in Brown, who has struggled trying to get players to buy in to his defensive-minded system.

Although it's not showing in the form of wins, Grant thinks Brown has bonded with the players.

"Mike has done a fantastic job with these guys individually," he said. "He spends an enormous amount of time watching film with guys, teaching, coaching. I believe he has connected with the guys."

One positive for the Cavs from Tuesday was the performance by rookie Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He scored a season-high 15 points in 31 minutes.

Grant has taken some heat for not sending Bennett to the D-League to work on his game, but it seems the team's patience could be paying off.

"I think the priority should be here for him working with our coaches, being on the floor getting those experiences," Grant said. "Last night was great. He performed well and played well, and you could tell he was ready for the opportunity."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.