But in a recent interview with Business Insider for our podcast, “Success! How I Did It,” Gilbert told us he sees James as an equal, not an employee. Gilbert said he considers James the best basketball player on the planet. “In that situation, although legally, he may be working for our organization, that’s not really the case,” Gilbert said. “He’s more like your partner, really.”
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James was asked about Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s string of tweets addressing the state of the team, in which Gilbert called James’ impact on the team “magical.” LeBron said that he hadn’t seen Gilbert’s tweets, then referenced Sixers’ president Bryan Colangelo’s ongoing Twitter fiasco. LeBron even gave himself a rimshot. “I wasn’t aware of that… it was his account though, right?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: I don’t think LeBron will sign a 5-year deal with the #Cavs this summer. He may resign but I don’t think for the max. I am not sure he can trust the organization and Dan Gilbert after the Kyrie Irving trade. LeBron would have preferred they forced Kyrie to play.
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.”
Alex Kennedy: LeBron camp is vehemently denying this report. “That source is totally off, especially about the relationship between LeBron and ownership.”
David Griffin’s departure as Cavaliers’ general manager was “a shock” to star forward LeBron James, who can leave as a free agent after next season and moves made now by owner Dan Gilbert will affect his decision. A source close to James told cleveland.com that “LeBron’s a player, Dan’s the boss, this was Dan’s decision,” but also that “LeBron does care about what the roster looks like.”
Howard Beck: Source: LeBron is “disappointed” at Griffin’s departure, as well as the timing, & “concerned” abt what this portends for Cavs going forward.
Howard Beck: Worth noting: LeBron and Griffin had a solid working relationship. James appreciated that Griffin made the moves necessary to win.
Brian Windhorst: Dan Gilbert didn’t consult with LeBron James prior to parting with David Griffin, sources said. James had advocated for Griffin extension
LeBron might have to leave again, as discussed last week on The Ringer, to actually catch the Ghost of Michael Jordan. LeBron could be tempted by the Lakers or Clippers, or some other team with a better roster, a more experienced coach — and a quality owner. That last bit might matter more than one would think.
After that LeBron story was published, a front-office source texted me that morning adding that a big reason LeBron might look elsewhere is due to his still-rocky relationship with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. LeBron’s comments in a video on Uninterrupted were posted hours later and confirmed LeBron’s — and his family’s — tensions with ownership. Gilbert’s infamous Comic Sans letter to James still weighs on his close circle today.
LeBron James and the Cavs’ front office are obviously in an awkward place. So it goes for James and majority owner Dan Gilbert. “He’s the owner of the team, I’m one of the players on the team,” James said after shootaround Friday, in preparation to play the Brooklyn Nets. “I think all 14 guys have a working relationship with our owner. It’s not about me and it’s not about him, so, it’s a non issue.”
ESPN Cleveland: Windhorst: I do think the #Cavs are ok with adding payroll, it just has to be the right move to make the team better.
ESPN Cleveland: Brian Windhorst: “LeBron is saying the Cavs aren’t as committed to winning a championship as he is. That inflamed people in the organization.”
Tension between LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ leadership is centered on payroll spending, multiple sources told ESPN.
James and team owner Dan Gilbert have different viewpoints on the issue, and it has been straining the relationship, sources said. The matter has been exacerbated by the team’s struggles on the court; the Cavs lost for the sixth time in eight games, 116-112 to the Sacramento Kings in overtime, on Wednesday night.
When James was considering a return to the Cavs in 2014, he pressed Gilbert on if he’d be willing to spend unconditionally on talent, regardless of the luxury-tax cost, sources said. Over the course of several meetings with James and his representatives, Gilbert agreed, and James subsequently signed with the team.
The comments angered Gilbert, sources said, because James appeared to imply it was an organizational choice whether to improve or not. This was seen by some as a reference to further spending.
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Marc Stein: The Mavericks are signing Yogi Ferrell to a two-year deal worth in excess of $5 million, according to league sources
Jared Weiss: Marcus Smart’s deal is fully guaranteed for all four years with no options and will follow the standard 8% raise structure starting at around $11.6 million, a league source tells The Athletic.
Michael Grange: Raptors connected with Leonard and agent etc. multiple times and separately on Wednesday, according to league sources. All conversations positive, forward-looking.
Mark Murphy: Kenny Boren, Smart’s high school coach, on relief from new deal: “You have no idea. It’s been a tough summer with free agency and his mom’s (cancer), It’s been tough emotionally for him.”
James Edwards III: #Pistons have announced that they’ve added Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori (previously with Denver) to Dwane Casey’s staff. Grgurich and Casey go back to their Seattle days, which I talked about in this profile: theathletic.com/424727/2018/07…