Dan Gilbert Trashes Reports Cavs Are Controlled by LeBron James
The owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers emphatically denied Tuesday that any decisions made by the team are done with the help, input or blessing of LeBron James.
"The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way shape of form of firing our head coach, involved in the transition of general manger to Chris Grant, will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires, is totally, 100 percent and patently false," Gilbert said at a news conference to introduce Grant as the team's new GM. "It's unfair to [James]. It's unfair to the franchise.
"You know, you can't help people from typing up this kind of craziness on the internet. If they want to believe it and they've got nothing better to do, that's great and that's fine. But if you're interested in the truth, the truth is that's not the case at all.
"Nor has [James] been involved heavily in any way shape or form in past major trades. You start reading that stuff too."
He continued: "[James] is a basketball player and a great one. His interests are aligned with ours. But this concept that this franchise has been handed to a player who is running it and making decisions is just completely and totally false. He'll tell you that. Chris will tell you that. I'll tell you that. The truth is the truth. I want to just make sure I really emphasize that."
Gilbert called some of the published stories "all the things that have been written and all the false things and the craziness" and added "some of these characters on Yahoo who type at 3 in the morning or whatever it is they do, making stuff up."
"You've got to put an end to it somewhere," Gilbert said.
Grant, named last Friday to replace the departed Danny Ferry, added the Cavs are "not consulting [James]" on the team's coaching search. As to the search, neither Grant nor Gilbert would admit that the Cavs have offered the job to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo -- though the offer has been made.
"We have had conversations with his camp," Grant said. "We're not going to go into specifics what those conversations are. We've talked to a number of candidates. ... This is part of the process for us. Until we come to a final decision, there is nothing to go into."
Gilbert made a point to let Grant answer coaching questions, saying the search was the GM's job. But Izzo clearly seems like Gilbert's first choice -- both are Michigan Staters who have known each other for some time.
Grant (pictured right) said the team will continue to search for the "right guy" and if the search takes six weeks that's what it will take. But Grant said the search takes place without input or demands from James.
"Someone staying up until 3 o'clock in the morning and writing that, 'They made this move and it must have been because LeBron wanted them to do this ...' " Grant said. "LeBron wants to win. We want to win. We've built a culture and an atmosphere that is pretty good. Now we want to push it to the next level."
Culture was an oft-used word at the news conference. Grant said the next coach had to fit in the team's culture, and that he wanted to continue the culture of the past five years. He was part of that culture as a "partner" (Gilbert's word) of former GM Danny Ferry. Grant did his best to keep the half-full outlook when he said it has "not been very difficult at all" to recruit coaches even with the future uncertainty of James.
Grant and Gilbert were both asked specifically why James seemed so lifeless in Game 5 of the team's Eastern Conference semifinal series against Boston. Neither had an answer.
"It would be unfair for me to speculate if someone wasn't feeling well or something," Grant said. "That would be hard for me to."
"I'm not sure also what happened," Gilbert said. "I don't know if we'll ever know overall. What we can do is make sure it never happens again."
Gilbert said that as long as his goals and James' are the same -- aligned was the word used -- then the coaching search would end with a choice that makes everyone happy. He did not seem overly concerned about public perception that his franchise is floundering, having fired a successful coach and replaced a successful GM while wondering about the future of the two-time MVP.
"We're at a certain level and [have] a great foundation," Gilbert said. "But it was our view that the benefit outweighed the risk of making some significant changes here to get us over the hump and get us to where we need to be. There's no sugarcoating that."
Gilbert said there are no guarantees other than he will do all he can to win a championship.
"We are not going to shortchange Cleveland, Ohio," he said. "This is not about franchise value. This is not about the payroll that we spent or didn't spend. This is driven solely, I mean solely, by the motivational factor of delivering a championship to this city, period. We believe that's LeBron's goal. There's no question we stated it ...
"We're just going to keep going until we get there. All that other stuff, franchise value and all those monetary things that people think it all comes down to, that will follow it."
"[James has] helped us get this organization to a certain level," Grant said. "Our job is to keep pushing it to the next level. So as we go forward, our decisions will always be made on winning. That's what's fair to the players. That's what's fair to the fans."