Barring catastrophic injury or disaster, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a very good chance of returning to the finals next season, because the East is a bunch of cupcakes and having LeBron James is an excellent head start. Beyond that is unclear, as James has a player option for the 2018-19 season, and Dan Gilbert’s certainly doing himself no favors.
It seems inevitable. Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers and a scummy person in general, famously vented his spleen in Comic Sans when James left for the Miami Heat in 2010. For the fun of it, recall how insane it was for an NBA owner to post this shit on his team’s website:
You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”
You can take it to the bank.
That rant’s long gone now, of course. Once James returned, they made up. The result for the Cavaliers since has been one championship between two finals losses, and although beating the Warriors in a best-of-seven series feels like a tall order for any team in the immediate future, the Cavs seem like they’d have the best chance compared to the Hawks, Raptors, and other flotsam of the East. Then, general manager David Griffin was sent on his way. More specifically, his contract wasn’t renewed. This is normal for Gilbert:
James did not seem to know this was the plan, and would not have been in favor of it:
Given that the Cavaliers just won their first title two seasons ago and still have most of the same players responsible for that achievement, not keeping Griffin—who was handling prep for Thursday’s draft and working the phones to try to land Jimmy Butler in a trade—seems...stupid. Short-sighted, at least. Even with all the half-jokes that James already acts as the player-coach-GM, canning a guy who he likes working with creates unnecessary drama (especially if, as ESPN reported, Griffin was let go in part he was demanding a raise to be paid in line with his GM peers). Gilbert, a sensitive penis, doesn’t historically do well with drama.
Think about how the NBA looked at the end of last season, and how different it looks now—and how radically changed it could be by this time next year. There’s no guarantee the Cavaliers will still be best positioned to challenge for a ring, and there’s no guarantee James won’t have his eye on potentially better situations. The last thing Gilbert should be doing is giving James any reason to be unhappy in Cleveland.