The Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, and LeBron James are headed for another ugly divorce yet again. The question is, whose fault is it now? The 2017 season was to be one of redemption after the Cavaliers were demolished by the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. However, rumors broke that Kyrie Irving wanted out and from there, everything else just slowly began to fall apart.
No one really knows what drove Irving away other than more rumors. However, with him gone, it’s clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers were not the same team who went to three straight NBA Finals. The Cavaliers and Celtics swapped All-Star point guards but only one has kept winning. Isaiah Thomas went from leading a 53-win Celtics team to destroying team chemistry on the Cavaliers to being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
But where did it all go wrong for Gilbert and LeBron this season?
There were rumblings that players were against LeBron bringing in Dwyane Wade. Couple that with non-stop trade rumors and it was only a matter of time before the foundation fell apart. One of the big issues was the contract of Tristan Thompson. LeBron is the reason the Cavaliers signed Thompson to such a huge deal in the first place. To add more fuel to the fire is the job security of Tyronn Lue who LeBron basically placed in the head coach position himself. With Lue’s leadership in question, LeBron has not offered much support for his friend.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) February 5, 2018
According to SLAM, there were reports that owner Dan Gilbert wanted to sell the team. And just last week, there were rumblings that Gilbert doesn’t care if LeBron bolts after this season or not. Which brings up to the original question. Whose fault is this?
It’s easy to point the finger at LeBron for all he has done or not done for that matter where the Cavaliers are concerned. However, Gilbert has to take some blame as well. What’s happening in Cleveland is a clear power struggle between owner and player. But it shouldn’t be like that. At the end of the day, LeBron James is still an employee of Dan Gilbert’s. I get it, LeBron is the star and may have a little say so but this is where Gilbert has to put his foot down and let James know who pays the bills.
When LeBron left in 2010, it was Gilbert who felt betrayed. Here was an owner who took the local kid with the No. 1 pick, tried his best to build a team around him only to be stabbed in the back on national TV as James told Gilbert, along with the rest of the world he was leaving Cleveland. Gilbert had every right to be upset with LeBron but then he turned around and accepted him back into the family.
Now, everything has come to the surface and there’s no telling how it will end. The Cavaliers are struggling, just gave their roster a complete makeover, all the while, keeping LeBron out of the loop. Gone is Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Wade. In their place are younger players such as Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, and Rodney Hood. Are they strong enough to win a championship? No, but it may have saved them from missing the playoffs this season.
Was the trade done to improve this season or for the future?
One has to figure that LeBron is gone after the year is up. However, the Cavs have put themselves in a better position than they were just a few days ago. If LeBron leaves the Cavs still have possession of the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 pick, a young athletic Nance, and Clarkson to pair with Kevin Love. Gilbert has to see the writing on the wall in terms of LeBron’s loyalty and he has finally decided to put the team over the name on the back of the jersey.
Keeping LeBron happy was always a top priority and Gilbert has fell victim to that numerous times. However, LeBron has continued to push his own agenda and Gilbert had no choice but to make sure the Cleveland Cavaliers survived another LeBron escape.