The status of Cleveland Cavaliers veteran forward LeBron James past this season remains a concern for members of the team, front office, the coaching staff and the team’s fans. However, one report claims that the most important person within the Cavaliers front office, owner Dan Gilbert, is apathetic about whether or not James decides to stay with the team.
Former ESPN Radio host Will Burge cited unnamed sources in noting the attitude of Gilbert toward James’ possible departure.
“Griff” refers to former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who left the organization last after being unable to negotiate a new contract with Gilbert. Chauncey Billups was Gilbert’s original choice to replace Griffin, but he ultimately rejected the offer, with Koby Altman eventually being hired.
James has a player option for next season with the Cavs, but is expected to opt out of the final year of his three-year deal. Even before the 2017-18 season began, James was rumored to be headed to countless other NBA teams. That speculation has only increased with the Cavaliers currently experiencing a rough patch that’s lasted six weeks and has seen them win just seven of their last 20 games.
When James left in 2010 to sign a free agent deal with the Miami Heat, Gilbert issued a blistering response that attacked James’ character in leaving. While James did return to the team four years later, the relationship between player and owner is considered lukewarm at best.
While such a connection between an owner and player can survive not being on good terms, the fact is that the Cavaliers were effectively a disaster during the years James wasn’t on the team. During those four years, the team never reached the playoffs, had a collective record of 97-215 (.311) and ended up being a lottery team each season. Whether or not that ominous history is being considered by Gilbert remains to be seen.