CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vowed Thursday to “never” move his NBA team from Cleveland.
Earlier this week, Gilbert scrapped plans for a $140 million renovation for Quicken Loans Arena, prompting speculation he might leave the city when his lease expires in 2027.
As part of the project that was canceled, the team would have extended its lease to 2034. The Cavs were going to split the cost of the arena’s makeover with public financing, but a local coalition opposed to using tax dollars for the remodeling was able to force a city referendum and Gilbert pulled out.
The Cavs were hoping to host a future All-Star game, but construction on the project would have had to begin by the middle of September.
While Gilbert insists he won’t move the team, there’s always the possibility he could sell.
Gilbert, who has owned the franchise since 2005 and guided it to a championship in 2016, has had a turbulent summer. The Cavs lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, general manager David Griffin left after leading the team to three straight conference titles and star guard Kyrie Irving demanded a trade. Cleveland completed the trade Wednesday night after it had hit a snag.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Cavs enter a season with LeBron James‘ future with the club in doubt. He can opt out of his contract next summer and become a free agent. If he stays with Cleveland, Gilbert will have to give him a contract in excess of $200 million.