INDEPENDENCE: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert believes he has the right personnel in place and is willing to remain as patient as it takes to turn the team around, but believes the playoffs are a possibility next season.
Armed with three of the top 34 picks in this summer's draft, Gilbert called this an important draft as the Cavs continue the slow climb back up the NBA standings.
With Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson already in place and another top six pick coming in June, Gilbert believes the postseason is a possibility next year.
"Before we had the injuries this year we were knocking on the door through the All-Star break," Gilbert said Wednesday. "I certainly think that's a possibility of being in the playoffs next year. I don't think any of us put any limits on where the team will go in any given year."
That's in contrast to what Cavs coach Byron Scott said two weeks ago after the Cavaliers completed their 21-45 season.
"It's still a long process," Scott said. "We're probably not going to be there this coming year, but if we hit home runs in the draft, it puts us in a position to get much better quicker."
Gilbert has conceded he sometimes struggles being patient, but at this point is committed to the Cavs' rebuilding efforts through the draft even if it means another losing season next year.
"You have to be as patient as your choices. Here you have no choice, you have to be patient for at least a period of time," Gilbert said. "I just believe we have the right front office and the right coaching staff. Those two never crossed my mind in the last couple years as to is there an issue in either place? That hasn't been the case at all. Really what it is for us now is personnel and making the right choices and developing the players on the court."
Gilbert sidestepped questions about the comments LeBron James made during the season, when he hinted at someday returning to play for the Cavs. James said in February, before the Miami Heat's only visit to Cleveland, he thought it would be "great" and "fun to play in front of these fans again."
James has shown regret over how he handled his departure from the Cavaliers, but Gilbert declined comment directly about James since he is under contract to another team. Asked if he was surprised by James' remarks in February, Gilbert said, "Nothing in the NBA surprises me."
Asked if he has forgiven James, Gilbert said, "The truth of the matter is, July 11, 2010 we started focusing on the future. You try to just look ahead. That's where we're at."