Report: Dan Gilbert ‘does not mind’ notion of LeBron James leaving Cavs
LeBron James reportedly informed the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday he will decline the $35.6 million player option for the final year in his contract with the team, thereby becoming a free agent. It is possible that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is happy James did so?
While it’s certainly possible James could remain in Cleveland for the 2018-2019 NBA season — the prevailing belief is it’s down to Cavs, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers for all intents and purposes — ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith suggests that Gilbert would welcome James’ departure for a pretty compelling reason.
“Dan Gilbert is known for not being particularly fond of LeBron James,” Smith said on “First Take” Friday, as transcribed by Clutch Points. “Dan Gilbert does not mind the thought of LeBron James leaving at all.
While Cavs fans may want LeBron James to stay, @stephenasmith says Dan Gilbert feels otherwise. pic.twitter.com/Wto0YxOxTD
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 29, 2018
“Matter of fact, I had one executive tell me, excuse me, I can’t wait until he leaves because I’ll get my team back,” Smith continued. “This is something that Dan Gilbert has actually echoed.”
Gilbert and James have not been necessarily seeing eye-to-eye of late and reports suggest their relationship has been deteriorating for some time. The uneasy situation came to another head after James seemed to snub Gilbert following the Cavaliers punching their ticket for the NBA Finals late last month.
Heartwarming moment between LeBron and Dan Gilbert on the way to the trophy presentation. pic.twitter.com/ImlcuepPfp
— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) May 28, 2018
Reports earlier in the season also suggested Gilbert is “not going to do what it takes to keep” James in Cleveland for some of the same reasons mentioned by Smith
All that aside, if Gilbert is in fact eager to see James leave, it’s arguably an awfully self-serving claim that provides the Cavs owner with cover as the organization would be forced to go into total rebuild mode should the superstar spurn Cleveland for a second time.
Let’s just hope Gilbert — should James leave again — avoids the temptation to pen another ill-conceived letter in Comic Sans font this time around.