INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Chris Grant doesn't even know Cleveland's abbreviated 66-game NBA schedule yet, but the Cavaliers general manager is eager to bring back free agent guard Anthony Parker to play it.
"We want him back," Grant said Thursday at the team's practice facility, where four players — Anderson Varejao, Ramon Sessions, Samardo Samuels and Manny Harris — worked out voluntarily on the first day they were permitted to do so.
Grant has spoken with Parker's agent, which is more than he has been able to do with other players. Until the new collective bargaining agreement is approved, players are not permitted to have contact with front office personnel.
Grant, happy that there soon will be a season, said re-signing Parker heads his long task list that must be filled in a short time. Even at age 36, Parker's presence on a team loaded with young players could speed up the Cavaliers' rebuilding program.
"He played great last year and is a leader for us," Grant said. "He's a person that everyone likes to be around. When fighting through adversity, he has a great way of building you back up.
"We will be aggressive in talks. We made it clear we would love to have him back."
Adding other players through trade or free agency is not out of the question, though Grant said bringing in an ordinary player on a rich contract would not mesh with team plans.
"We are excited to get started again," Grant said, adding that condensing work that normally would take place over an eight weeks between July 1 and Sept. 1 will have to be done in "about nine days".
The organization has been busy for months making improvements in off-court areas. That includes working to bring back fans turned off by the NBA lockout.
"We have a lot of hard work to do with our fans," Grant said. "But we have great fans here and we can't wait to get back to the energy of sellout crowds."
It would help to have a schedule, and a full roster of healthy players participating in full practices with the league due to start play Christmas Day.
"We'll probably have two preseason games and an open scrimmage for the public," Grant said. "Things are in somewhat of a rush and will be changing quickly. We'll have updates when we get them."
Grant is eager for players to take physicals. The Cavaliers endured a number of injuries last season and could not speak with players during the lockout to monitor their condition. That includes No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving, who played only 11 games last season at Duke due to a severe injury to his right foot that likely will keep him sidelined until at least next month.
Grant said the Cavaliers will build around veterans Baron Davis and Antawn Jamison, pointing out that the roster changed dramatically just before the labor dispute and that the team will need time to have all the new parts mesh.
"The approach for us hasn't changed," Grant said. "We have a good young core, a lot of picks coming up in the future and tons of flexibility. We want to get these kids in here, get started, and see them grow."
Grant also said he is in the process of adding an assistant coach to Byron Davis' staff. He hopes to announce a decision soon — in the midst of a whirlwind lead-up to the much-anticipated season.