Former Cavs Employee: ‘Working For Dan Gilbert Sucks’

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Working for Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is actually something that’s more beneficial once an individual no longer works for him. That’s the opinion of one former employee, who offered insight into that world.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic compared how Gilbert’s revolving door of coaches compares disturbingly to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who have been perennial losers over the past two decades. Pointing to the case of former head coach Mike Brown, Lloyd also cited that former employee’s unique take on being a Gilbert employee.

“Brown, God love him, has been on Gilbert’s payroll since 2005. Think about that. Because of the way Gilbert stretches contracts after he fires people, he has been writing checks to Mike Brown for 13 years — and he still has two more years to go.

“‘Working for Dan Gilbert sucks while you’re doing it,’ a former employee once told me. ‘But it’s great after you’re fired.'”

Brown was first hired as Cavaliers head coach in 2005 and was fired five years later. Gilbert then brought him back in that same capacity in 2013, but once again dismissed him after just one season.

The miserable early weeks of the Cavaliers’ season have seen them drop their first six games and fire head coach Tyronn Lue. With Larry Drew now serving as interim coach, the Cavaliers are employing their fifth head coach in the past six years.

The level of dysfunction in the Cavaliers’ organization is such that not only is the team still paying Brown, but also Lue’s predecessor, David Blatt. In addition, the firing of Lue means that Gilbert will be paying him roughly $20 million over the next three years to NOT coach.

Gilbert bought the team in 2005 and was the immediate beneficiary of having LeBron James already in his first tenure with the organization. Once James left in 2010, the team collapsed over the next four seasons. When James returned four years later, four consecutive trips to the finals resulted, including the franchise’s first NBA title in 2016. In short, consistent chaos has been a hallmark of the Gilbert era.

“The Cavs have never been a sustainable culture of stability with Gilbert in charge,” Lloyd wrote. “James just chose to come home, and the Cavs threw a parade because of it.”

Current general manager Koby Altman is attempting to put a positive spin on the current upheaval:

“I think we’ve had some very, very unique and special times that we’ve been through. My first two years we won the lottery twice and then went to the Finals the next four years. That’s a pendulum swing of epic proportions. Each one of those situations requires a different dynamic.”

With Kevin Love now expected to be out for at least another month, the Cavaliers don’t figure to see much of an uptick in their immediate fortunes. That may lead to a complete makeover of the team, something that’s become a Gilbert trademark.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.