June 30th, 11:55 free agency officially began with the signing of Doug McDermott to the Pacers. Of course that’s not why we had Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania notifications on every one of their tweets. The big fishes this summer are Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and of course, LeBron James. PG surprised many by being the first domino to fall and rebuking Los Angeles to stay in the small-market of Oklahoma City. As the Spurs and Lakers continue their epic standoff regarding trading Leonard, Bron did not want to wait any longer. At 8:08 P.M the Eastern Conference got just a little more pathetic, it’s best player leaving the conference for the west – more specifically, the Lakers.
Of course, we have to play the blame game. We look in the direction of owner Dan Gilbert – deservingly so. But it’s far too easy and somewhat lacking proper context. It’s no secret Gilbert ousted general manager David Griffin in the middle of an off-season where Paul George could have been had. A deal was in place which would deliver PG to Cleveland without having to part ways with star point guard Kyrie Irving. Except Cavaliers management couldn’t get a commitment from LeBron beyond the 2017-18 season. From that point on we should have known he was just running out the clock.
Gilbert gave up control to LeBron since he returned to Cleveland in 2014 – as he should have. A player like James deserves this kind of control over a franchise. And Gilbert paid his bills, signing Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and J.R Smith to outrageously oversized contracts to appease James. When the last asset of any value left in the cabinet is a middle of the lottery first-round pick I honestly cannot blame Gilbert for not wanting to part ways with a prospect like Collin Sexton for one-year of DeAndre Jordan, who wouldn’t have helped at all against the Warriors in the finals.
We can criticize Gilbert for all the idiotic ways he’s screwed his team up beyond just these last four-seasons. But we can’t pin the Kyrie Irving debacle on him. The Cavaliers should still be a contender for the playoffs with both Irving and Love in uniform – instead of 500/1 odds to win the title according to Westgate.
Gilbert is a petty, cold businessman. LeBron is in the middle of becoming a business. The bottom line always was top-priority to Gilbert. In February he made everyone with floor seats sign a three-year extension.
Gilbert got his team back and made a pretty penny in the time he briefly gave it up, and when LeBron was costing Gilbert money there wasn’t any reason to pretend everything was hunky-dory. A split between these two corporations was always imminent. Let’s hope Gilbert can restrain himself from his keyboard this time.