On Dan Gilbert

ESPN’s Howard Bryant takes owner Dan Gilbert to task at how he’s handled the Cavaliers:

Successful organizations must adopt and believe in an institutional philosophy. The Cavaliers had won 66 and 61 games the previous two seasons, the two best win totals in franchise history.

Gilbert sent the message that he did not believe in his front office, firing coach Mike Brown two weeks before general manager Danny Ferry resigned as the possibility of losing James as well hung over the team.

The takeaway is that Gilbert is blaming everyone but himself.

But in preparation for a potential James departure, Gilbert stood pat, let James control the negotiation and then was left without a chair when the free agent music stopped. Judging from his actions and his words, Gilbert apparently believed that his team wasn’t very good, that his star was a quitter and that his coach and general manager weren’t good enough to win a championship — harsh assessments for a team that crossed 60 wins in consecutive years. What is more likely is that Gilbert clearly did not know what he wanted after the tough playoff loss.

The result is a 2010-11 team without a compass and a fan base of season-ticket holders who thought they were going to be watching championship-level basketball paying to see a team that might not even make the playoffs.

The Cavaliers’ payroll this season is $51.8 million, down from $80 million last year. Their highest-paid player is Antawn Jamison, whose $13.5 million salary represents more than a quarter of the team’s total payroll — and he doesn’t even start. Nor is their fourth-highest paid player, Daniel Gibson, in the starting lineup.

This is why bad organizations remain bad.

I highly suggest you read the whole thing.

I have mixed feelings on Dan Gilbert. I love that he’s willing to spend money on the Cavaliers.  The new practice facility, the new locker rooms, changing the seat colors, taking on extra salary and paying the luxury tax and, of course, the post-Decision letter: awesome.  However, I don’t like the over the top game day celebrations (fire breathing score board!!), his appearances in the broadcast booth and his misguided determination to plow ahead with this team.

Since LeBron left, Cleveland fans have rallied around Gilbert.  It makes sense. Gilbert is the face of this franchise, for better or worse (it sure as hell ain’t anyone in uniform at the moment).

Yes, LeBron is a prick and his leaving completely messed up the franchise.  But Gilbert is the head of that franchise. The Cavs made no major moves this offseason. They didn’t choose a direction. Go young? Add a veteran All-Star? Nope. They kept most the team mostly intact and continued on their way.

I’m writing as the Cavs trail the Sixers by 20 points, headed for their fifth straight loss. It’s time to blow this thing up. I really don’t understand the point in gunning for the 8th seed with this group. Not after their peformance this past week. They look like a shell of a team.

There is no future with this group, that’s what makes this season so brutal.  It’s one thing to bad but be young. At least you can watch and root for improvement and growth.  But this team? Mo Williams is who he is.  Antawn Jamison won’t be getting any better. Anderson Varejao is the only one playing at full speed but he’s a limited offensive player.  The only young guy is J.J. Hickson and he’s a space cadet.

Blow it up, Dan. Give the team some direction.  Have a long term plan. Specifically, have a plan that doesn’t involve paying money to Andre Iguodala. You’re not going to build a starless championship team like the Pistons (not with this group, anyways).

LeBron leaving has given the Cavs franchise some breathing room. No one expects them to contend this year or anytime in the near future.  The worst thing they could do is build an expensive, mediocre team (45-54 wins) and then drag it out before eventually having to rebuild anyways (like the Cavs from 95-2002).  Just cut your losses and start fresh.

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5 Responses to On Dan Gilbert

  1. Geoffrey says:

    Mo and Andy are being shopped for draft picks. And if someone bites, I think we should do it. Better to start it now than later. Our first round pick plus potentially 2 more 1st rounders nets us essentially a whole new team for next year, before the Cavs really sink back into oblivion. (now our GM's ability to draft well is a whole other story)I bet that they promised Byron Scott that they would try to compete, which is just unfortunate, since "competing" is not what this organization needs. And if this isn't what he signed up for, then let him go. We need to act in the best interest in the long term. Besides, Boston and Lakers are looking like they will hold up Gilbert's end of his guarantee

  2. Ben says:

    The Iguodala rumors scare the shit out of me. That's exactly the wrong move at the wrong time. Iggy as LeBron's sidekick: yes. Iggy replacing LeBron: not in a million years.

  3. Good post, Ben. Other than the part about the post-Decision letter being awesome, I agree 100%.

  4. Nick says:

    I agree as well. I think they tried to make their run and compete, but it just isn't working. I realize Byron probably isn't ecstatic about rebuilding a team, but it really gives him the chance to help build his own team. We need to rebuild from the bottom up and stop trying to patch holes in the now crumbling foundation.I just hope they aren't stupid enough to dish off their inexpensive, young talent (Hickson, Gibson).

  5. Ben says:

    Geoffrey – if they promised Scott that they'll contend/compete, they should cut their losses there as well. Frowns – Thanks. While Gilbert's letter is certainly unprofessional and looks worse in the harsh light of day, I found it quite cathartic the evening of the Decision. At the very least, I enjoyed reading something that wasn't PR babblygook. Nick – Even Gibson and Hickson are just okay as far as young talent goes. Hickson has the athletic ability, but not the drive. Gibson can shoot but his handle is weak and he's more a SG in a PG body.

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