Dan Gilbert said he’d never move the Cavaliers from Cleveland, but the Cavs owner left something unsaid.
He could sell the team, and while a team spokesman said there has been no thought given to a sale, sources outside the organization suspect Gilbert to consider selling within the next few years.
“Sources outside the organization” could be wildly speculating, especially because, anonymously, they face no consequences if they’re wrong. But I trust Vardon enough as a reporter to believe he’d cite only people positioned to have real insight.
Forbes valued the Cavaliers at $1.2 billion. Gilbert bought controlling interest of the franchise for $375 million in 2005. This could be the right time to cash out.
Though he sometimes gets in his own way and too personal, Gilbert has spent considerably on his team – to the point people forget Cleveland is a relatively small market. That’s a key reason the Cavs have been to three straight Finals and won the 2016 title.
Of course, the biggest reason is LeBron James returning to Cleveland despite the fallout from Gilbert’s infamous letter.
Cue the speculation about LeBron just purchasing the franchise himself, as he has expressed a desire to own an NBA team. With a net worth pegged at $275 million, he probably can’t afford a majority stake. But with NBA salaries escalating and endorsement money flowing, the share he could buy probably just keeps increasing. It all depends on timing.
LeBron, who is 32 and has played 14 NBA seasons, can’t buy a team until retired as a player – and can’t buy the Cavaliers unless Gilbert is actually willing to sell.