Ferry's departure Friday after five seasons occurred two weeks after the club fired coach Mike Brown following the team's second-round loss to the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs. 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," Ferry told The Associated Press. "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 any specifics about the reasons behind him leaving. It was assumed he would remain with Cleveland, an organization now undergoing a massive overhaul just as James is set to enter the free-agent market.
Gilbert will address Ferry's parting later in a conference call.
Cleveland's decision to fire Brown, with whom Ferry worked in San Antonio, may have created a divide between the GM and Gilbert. Ferry, though, said there were no hard feelings with Gilbert, who hired him as Cleveland's eighth GM on June 27, 2005.
"It is the right time to move on," Ferry said. "Chris is prepared to do a great job. This will be a natural transition for him. He's done everything that a GM does at every level."
Ferry led the Cavs through the most successful period in their history, peaking with the club's first finals appearance in 2007.
But despite winning 127 regular-season games and having the league's best record the past two seasons, the Cavaliers fell short of a title, losing to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals last season and to the Celtics last month. And now, they're on the verge of possibly losing James.
The club went 272-138 during Ferry's five seasons.
Ferry said the club's strategy to re-sign James will not be affected by his departure.
Gilbert praised Ferry in a statement released by the team.
"For five years, Danny Ferry was instrumental in leading the establishment of a culture, process and professionalism that has become part of the fabric of the definition of 'who' are the Cleveland Cavaliers. Danny worked extremely hard to create this strong foundation that we will continue to build upon going forward with much gratitude and appreciation," Gilbert said. "This solid foundation is evident by the natural and clear choice to choose his close associate, Chris Grant, whom Danny worked in partnership with for his entire five years leading the Cavaliers front office, to succeed Danny as the Cleveland Cavaliers new general manager."
Grant almost left the Cavs two years ago to take the GM job in Atlanta, where he spent nine seasons working in a variety of roles with the Hawks.