Storyline: LeBron-Gilbert Relationship

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The pivot away from James’ wishes has been noticeable, particularly since this is a franchise that since losing him in 2010 has been willing to do — and spend — whatever was necessary to get him back and keep him happy. James and Gilbert have no relationship. Neither do James and Altman, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Whereas Griffin would consult with James and keep him informed of major roster decisions, that is no longer happening. James doesn’t trust this front office, and there is no communication now between management and star player. It perhaps played a role in James yelling and cursing at multiple front office executives during the now-famous team meeting a couple of weeks ago that began with players questioning Kevin Love’s absence from a recent practice. Multiple sources confirmed James cursed toward at least two team executives during the heated meeting.

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This probably shouldn’t be surprising given the history between LeBron James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, but it is nonetheless notable as the Cavs try to find their way out of a dark place. In a Monday appearance on the Lowe Post, ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski said that he believes the root of all of Cleveland’s dysfunction is the dysfunctional relationship between LeBron and Gilbert. And that that has amplified all of their existing problems, causing cliques to form that divide what’s supposed to be a united locker room.

Adrian Wojnarowski: “I think the LeBron James dynamic with Dan Gilbert issues sort of set the tone in the organization for others to square off. When the two most powerful people in the organization (do it), I think it opens the door for others to have that. The best player and the owner, that sets a tone. I think it only serves to amplify the other issues there. You have a lot of taking of sides, you have a lot of cliques. The guys who’ve been there, the guys who just came in. Certainly what’s gone on with players and coaches and there being a disconnect there. I think it goes back to the Kyrie-LeBron summer and nobody’s ever really done that to LeBron. Nobody’s ever said ‘I don’t want to play with him.’ And somebody said it, did it, acted on it and got out. I think Kyrie said I’m not going to let LeBron dictate my future. Organizations, whether it was Cleveland the first time or in Miami, everybody in the league has had to wait for LeBron to dictate terms. A player said I’m going to dictate it and the team acquiesced and traded him. I think that set the stage for this.”
2 months ago via ESPN

The Cavs’ players do not trust each other. It appears as if some of them don’t like each other. Two of them — Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye — were told they’d probably get traded two weeks ago but then weren’t. Their coach has been hesitant to shake up the lineup as he has failed to motivate his veteran team. Tyronn Lue’s performance has been questioned in recent weeks. His fidelity to playing certain lineups while abandoning others that previously were highly successful is so mystifying that it has launched conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, he is not at the center of the storm. This is all a whirlwind around LeBron James vs. the Cavs’ front office, which is to say it’s about James vs. owner Dan Gilbert.
2 months ago via ESPN

Their coach has been hesitant to shake up the lineup as he has failed to motivate his veteran team. Ty Lue’s performance has been questioned in recent weeks. His fidelity to playing certain lineups while abandoning others that previously were highly successful is so mystifying that it has launched conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, he is not at the center of the storm. This is all a whirlwind around LeBron James vs. the Cavs front office, which is to say it’s about James vs. owner Dan Gilbert.

Did you feel like Dan Gilbert’s letter was racial? “Um, I did. I did. It was another conversation I had to have with my kids. It was unfortunate, because I believed in my heart that I had gave that city and that owner, at that point in time, everything that I had. Unfortunately, I felt like, at that point in time, as an organization, we could not bring in enough talent to help us get to what my vision was. A lot of people say they want to win, but they really don’t know how hard it takes, or a lot of people don’t have the vision. So, you know, I don’t really like to go back on that letter, but it pops in my head a few times here, a few times there. I mean, it’s just human nature. I think that had a lot to do with race at that time, too, and that was another opportunity for me to kind of just sit back and say, ‘Okay, well, how can we get better? How can we get better? How can I get better?’ And if it happens again, then you’re able to have an even more positive outlook on it.”
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April 19, 2018 | 2:58 pm EDT Update