Cavs owner Dan Gilbert: Now we're going to build the right way


Thumbnail image for dgilbert.jpgDan Gilbert is putting a much better spin on LeBron James leaving now.

Not the right one, but at least one that sounds reasonable and lacks Comic Sans font.

In a story about rebuilding the Cavaliers at the News-Herald, here is what Gilbert said about the effort.

“We weren’t as focused on the long term (before James left),” he said. “We’ll build the right way. It’s absolutely refreshing and challenging and we’re all looking forward to building the Cleveland Cavaliers into a premier team.

“We didn’t achieve the ultimate goal (with James). It can’t be a one-person show. We have to have a team approach and a team effort to make it happen.”

It sounds good, but he’s wrong.

He’s right that you need to build a team. But he’s wrong about this — you need a superstar or two. Look at the NBA champions in the last 30 years: The Lakers had Magic and Kareem, then Kobe with Shaq and Gasol; The Celtics had Larry Bird with McHale and Parish, now KG as part of the big three; the Bulls had Jordan and Pippen; the Spurs had Tim Duncan; the Rockets had Hakeem the Dream; the Heat had Dwyane Wade and Shaq.

You get the idea? You need a superstar. The only ream really not to have one was the 2004 Pistons and they were a defensive juggernaut with some quality offensive players. And they are the exception.

Now, you have to do a better job putting quality players that fit the system around your superstar — that is where the Cavaliers failed. What was the system? They had a defensive minded coach in Mike Brown then gave him defensively limited players like Shaq. Gilbert is right that there was a focus on the short term, but there had to be because the goal was to win now and keep LeBron.

So go ahead and think long term, Gilbert. But you still need some superstars. Sorry, it’s just how you really win at the top level of basketball.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.