With the Kyrie Irving blockbuster between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics finally complete, reporters around the country are picking up the pieces.
More than a few of those pieces pertain to the role of owner Dan Gilbert in the management of the franchise, as a new piece from The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor investigated today.
“Gilbert thinks he’s the protagonist in the story of the Cavaliers, when, in reality, he’s the antagonist,” an executive told O’Connor.
As the Cavaliers move through LeBron James’ second administration in Cleveland, Gilbert’s image worsens. During new general manager Koby Altman’s introductory press conference, Gilbert joked that he cycles through GMs in four-year terms, much like Presidents of the United States.
That pattern is hardly an ode to America’s democratic process — rather, it is an indictment of the way Gilbert has managed the Cavaliers organization since purchasing the team 12 years ago.
According to O’Connor’s reporting, Gilbert is operating under the assumption that James is as good as gone, expecting that the franchise’s superstar will opt out of his contract next summer and leave Cleveland. This would help explain why the team was willing to accept Isaiah Thomas, injured hip and all, in a trade package that also included the ultra-valuable unprotected Brooklyn Nets 2018 first-rounder.
Gilbert, according to this Ringer piece, is also very cognizant of perception in the NBA. He perceives Indiana’s return for Paul George, who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in June for two players, as underwhelming. He made his way through the Irving situation with the league’s perception of the Cavaliers in full view.
Fortunately, the Cavs’ return for Irving stands out as one of the best for a superstar all summer, according to O’Connor and the executives with whom he spoke. Gilbert seems to still be over-involved with the day-to-day dealings in Cleveland, but in this case, his involvement resulted in a deal that helped his team.