Brand New Brass

Wine & Gold Name Koby Altman Team’s New General Manager

Amidst an offseason of anxiety for some Cavalier fans, the franchise’s Chairman and newly-minted General Manager took the podium on Wednesday afternoon in Independence and assuaged some of that apprehension – with Koby Altman displaying the cool, confident demeanor that convinced Dan Gilbert to make him the Wine & Gold’s new top personnel man.

It hasn’t been an easy summer for the Cavaliers, but Altman immediately adjusted the running narrative.

”It’s unfortunate, sort of, the narrative that’s going on right now, in terms of where we are,” asserted Altman. “This thing is not broken. We’re a very successful organization and we’re going to continue to drive for that success.

”(We need to) get better and grow – obviously adjustments need to made every year. But I want us to be prideful of where we are as an organization – how good we’ve been and how good we’ll continue to be.”

Before discussing – and in some cases, not discussing some of the offseason’s more touchy subjects – Gilbert took the opportunity to introduce the rest of Cleveland’s new-look front office.

Cleveland native, former West Virginia standout and reigning G-League Executive of the Year Mike Gansey was named the team’s assistant GM. Brock Aller, who’s been with organization for a dozen years and is one of the league’s better “cap-ologist”s will take over as the Senior Director of Basketball Operations. John Nichols, a Harvard grad, will be the team’s Senior Director of Analytics. And Akron native, Brandon Weems – in his third season with the team – was named Director of Scouting.

It was inevitable that the Cavs’ top brass would be asked to address the reports about Kyrie Irving. Both said that they preferred to keep the content of meetings with the team and its four-time All-Star in-house, but Gilbert was compelled to state the pure facts of the matter.

”Right now, Kyrie Irving is under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two or three years, depending on the last year, and as of now he’s one of our best players. So sure, we expect him to be in Camp.”

Altman added: “We’re in touch with (Irving)’s representation and it’s a fluid situation that we’re not going to address right now.”

After meeting with former Piston, Chauncey Billups, immediately after the season, the Wine & Gold went in-house for their biggest hire of the summer, with Altman replacing David Griffin, whose contracted wasn’t renewed following the 2016-17 season.

”(Griffin) and I both decided that it didn’t feel right moving forward; it had nothing to do with money, it had nothing to do with specific trades of players or anything like that,” said Gilbert. “It was just philosophically and culturally, we had a little bit different views of how things were going to go forward.”

Altman – a Brooklyn, New York native – has been with the organization since 2012, working his way up from pro personnel manager to director of pro personnel to Assistant General Manager, a position he’s held since the start of the 2016 campaign.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Gilbert then shifted gears to his current front office.

”The (front office) team we have here, the guys we introduced, the other guys I haven’t introduced and Kobe,” said Gilbert. “It’s a feeling you go by and you go by experience and by knowledge, but I do feel as strong as I’ve ever felt about a team.

”These guys have killed it over the past five weeks and I think they’ll continue to kill it.”

Altman – a Brooklyn, New York native – has been with the organization since 2012, working his way up from pro personnel manager to director of pro personnel to Assistant General Manager, a position he’s held since the start of the 2016 campaign.

In terms of ‘hitting the ground running,’ Altman has been leading the team’s front office over what’s turned out to be a somewhat turbulent five weeks. And on his first full day officially on the job, he signed a three-time All-Star and former MVP, Derrick Rose.

”It was an opportunity that came to us recently – and it was brought about by Derrick,” asserted Altman. “He wanted to be in a place where he can play with excellent players, in a place where he can play in meaningful games. He wants to be here and he’s excited to be here. He’s in a great space mentally and his body looks great.”

But acquiring Rose isn’t the only move Altman and his new front office team have been able to make in a short but busy summer.

”We’ve had an active offseason; we’ve done the most since I’ve been here,” said the New York native. “We’ve done a lot of things, not only to stay competitive but to take incremental steps to get better. It’s been an active offseason with one goal in mind. We think we’ve gotten better, we think we’re more talented and, to Dan’s point, we’re certainly more hungry.”

Altman experience spans the basketball spectrum. He was Team Manager of USA Basketball’s Under-17 team that won the inaugural U-17 World Championship in Germany. In 2009, he was an assistant with Team USA’s U-19 squad that won the gold in Auckland, New Zealand.

“I’ve worked across all levels of this organization and I have deep relationships across all levels.”

Koby Altman

The well-rounded 34-year-old spent two seasons as an assistant with Columbia University, where he also led the school’s developmental basketball program. He spent the 2009-10 season as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois after earning his master’s degree in sports management at UMass.

While he was earning his graduate degree, Altman – a three-year starter at point guard for Middlebury College – coached nearby Amherst College for two seasons, leading the Mammoths to a combined 48-11 mark.

Now he’s the man in charge of keeping the East’s alpha dogs atop the Conference – where they can take another shot at knocking off the Warriors (or whoever takes charge of a loaded Western Conference).

”This is a promotion – and it’s an incredible promotion,” concluded Altman. “But I’ve been here, I know this organization really well. This is going to be my sixth year here and I know the cast of characters really well. I’ve worked across all levels of this organization and I have deep relationships across all levels.

”And I know I can now lead this organization because of that.”

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