Danny Ferry stepped down as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ general manager yesterday, a surprise decision that complicates the most important offseason in team history.
Ferry’s departure after five seasons occurred two weeks after the club fired coach Mike Brown following the team’s second-round loss to the Celtics. It also comes as the team is making plans to try to re-sign two-time MVP LeBron James, who will be a free agent next month.
Ferry was in the final month of his contract. He said the decision not to renew his contract was a mutual one with owner Dan Gilbert.
“I thought it was important that there was as much clarity as possible in the organization at this time, so things could start moving forward,’’ said Ferry. “It’s important then whomever is hired as the head coach knows, feels, and understands the people he is going to work with.’’
Assistant GM Chris Grant will take over for Ferry, who played in Cleveland for 10 years and became the club’s GM in 2005.
Ferry did not give specifics about the reasons behind him leaving. It was assumed he would remain with Cleveland, an organization undergoing a massive overhaul just as James is set to enter the market.
On a conference call, Gilbert said the moves to fire Brown and split with Ferry were necessary to help the team attain its goal of a championship.
“You’ve got to take some risks, calculated ones,’’ he said.
Gilbert said the organization has been in touch with James and he remains confident the Cavaliers can keep the superstar, who has spent seven seasons with Cleveland.
Given a chance to clear up whether he’ll return for a third season with the Bobcats, Brown declined to talk to reporters. “I don’t have anything to say,’’ a smiling Brown said before disappearing down a stairway.
There are numerous signs that Brown, 69, who has lamented the time spent away from his family in suburban Philadelphia, will be back in Charlotte after leading the Bobcats to their first playoff berth.
Brown has said he won’t coach for anyone other than Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, and on April 30 said he didn’t want this “to drag on’’ too deep into the offseason.
Brown reconfigured Charlotte’s roster over the past two years, and the six-year-old franchise went 44-38 this season to earn the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Not counting the New York Knicks, who fired him after one season, Brown has guided all nine of his pro teams into the playoffs by his second season.