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Transcript of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's meeting with media

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 1, 2012

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert met with reporters tonight prior to the Cavs' game against the New Jersey Nets. Gilbert was one of the many owners who voted to accept the CBA even though he wasn't overjoyed by it and said he was "disappointed" his e-mail to Commissioner David Stern last month was leaked to the press. The following is a full transcript of the interview:

On the direction on the franchise:
"It’s very exciting. Obviously last year was a tough year because it was a transitional year. We didn’t have so many new prospects we do now to really look at and watch develop. It’s a whole different year. It's very exciting for everybody in the entire organization watching these kids grow."

Willing to say this team is rebuilding?:
"We’re definitely rebuilding. You never know how fast it’s going to go, but you have to love watching these kids develop. We’ll see what happens this summer as far as free agency and the draft. It’s step by step, game by game."

Is it tough not having a win-now mentality:
"I still think every game is like a win now. You look at every game and say we should’ve won, like the other night (against Indiana) you hope we would’ve won that game. But it was still an interesting, fun game to watch. You go into every game wanting to win. You never want to tell your coach or players don’t win too many games. But you still have to take a view of the long run and focus on that as well. Realistically we’re building this thing for the future. We have some good pieces, we’ll get some more good pieces. I still think on a game by game basis, we’ll say let’s get that win.

Was it difficult to amnesty Baron from a financial standpoint:
"Interestinlgy enough, that amnesty allowed a stretch provision for us so you can extend the payment over a period of time. Baron did a good job for us in the last half of the season when we had him. It was a little tough (waiving him) from a competitive standpoint, but by freeing up that cap space and also allowing us flexibility was probably the smart thing to do for the franchise overall."

Does the new CBA give you the competitive balance you wanted?:
"There were some things that people aren’t paying that close of attention to that actually did achieve a piece of that goal. Re-signing your own free agent, you now get another year, but you can pay him 30 percent of the cap as a max as opposed to other teams can only pay 25. ... When you add it all together, in a situation where you have a max player, it’s something like $28 million, I don’t have the exact math, but $20 something million more to stay with the existing team than to leave your team and go to another. There’s more of a diff on that side than there ever has been before. Did we get everything we wanted in that area? Probably not. But in the spirit of compromise, both sides could probably say they didn’t get everything they wanted."

Is it difficult to see how you've been portrayed during and after the lockout?:
"It was very difficult and it wasn’t really the media’s fault. Because there was such a blackout, things were just getting printed. There was one thing where they were going owner by owner and their positions. You could’ve taken darts and done a better job. I think sometimes the way the Cavs and our position was portrayed is definitely inaccurate and wrong. I’m glad it’s over now and we’re moving forward and the season is here and that’s all behind us."

Thoughts on Kyrie Irving:
"It’s hard to believe he’s a teenager. I think of my kids being 14, 15 years old. I look at them and watch him and say ‘That kid is only 4 years or 5 years older than you guys. It’s hard to imagine. Not only his play, but his maturity level. Just even talking to him. That was the way even predraft when we had him in for workouts, he’s such a mature kid with a good, strong presence, character and integrity it just comes off of him when you’re talking to him. The whole thing is very exciting and I think he’ll be a big part of our franchise going forward."

Were you close to getting a franchise tag as part of the agreement:
"It’s hard to know what exact piece was close or not close because there were so many moving parts it wasn’t focused on one piece yes or no, it was all more the totality of the negotiations where they were. That certainly was discussed. I think it probably would’ve been a good thing overall for the NBA, but again, that difference in what you can pay your own max player is significantly more than it was in the previous one. Hopefully that will help and be a difference."

How quickly was franchise tag abandoned in negotiations?:
"Probably don’t want to go back and rehash every moment or provision that was discussed. But it was in there and it was discussed for a period of time. Unfortunately it wasn’t part of the agreement. But I think we did get some things that will make it better for the small market and mid market teams. Now keep in mind that this concept of free agency where star players were leaving teams is really something of the last 18 months. That’s what the other side (the players) was saying. It wasn’t a problem for 15, 16, 17 years in the NBA. We’re hoping it was a blip or a phase and it won’t be a continuing trend."

Difficult to focus on Cavs with casino looming:
"We’ve got great people in both places. Frankly I’ve been more engaged in watching the Cavs and getting back into it after last year than I have been in a long time. The answer is yeah, I’m still focused for sure."

Reaction to your e-mail to Stern getting leaked to Yahoo! Sports:
"The lesson will be when you get off an airplane, check the internet first before you go send off an e-mail. If I would’ve checked, I would’ve seen he made his decision hours before and I wouldn’t have had to send the e-mail. It’s a little disappointing someone would leak a personal e-mail. Owners are always making statements and having opinions between them and always sending things back and forth. It was unusual and shocked to see that in the media. I went to bed at midnight, someone sent me email at 6:20, 'Hey I saw your e-mail.' One of you guys, actually. (It was me.) I thought I was having a dream. Unfortunately it wasn’t. The lesson for me was probably not to send out so many e-mails and check things before you send stuff out.

When Kyrie is eligible for free agency, what makes you think he'll stay:
"The draft picks we have now, as far as the organization goes, we’re here from the beginning. People forget we were not here from the beginning of the previous (LeBron James) era, we came in Year 3. There were two years without us when we weren’t able to establish a foundation and a relationship at the beginning. It’s a whole different thing now and I really think it will be very different when this core of guys comes up for a contract. Who knows exactly who will be here and who won't based on what happens in the NBA. We keep doing the right things in the organization, we keep making the arena and the franchise a great place for players to play and we start winning, things will take care of themselves."

Overall are you happy with the CBA?:
"I think it’s fair overall. I’m not jumping up and down nor do I think other owners are, nor do I think the players are. I guess when you have that kind of disagreement, that’s the natural place where people end up. There’s some things I think are pretty good with it and some things I’d like to see different. I’m sure the players say the same thing. I think it’s fair."

Message to Cleveland fans:
"I’d ask them to be patient like they have been for many years on a lot of fronts. I think they see the commitment and that commitment is building it the right way and building it in a championship style and doing it in a way that will preserve things in the long term. It’s not just looked at as a short term blitz. We want to build something here that lasts for the long haul."

Are you confident the fans will come back?:
"Absolutely. There’s been season ticket sales and we all know they aren’t where they were at a year or two ago. We’re going to try to earn their respect and commitment from people to come back. People are starting to get excited after three games. We sold out opening night, which was nice to see. We understand we have to earn the respect and earn the commitment from our fans and supporters and we’ll keep going until we do."

Did you vote yes or no on CBA:
"There were a handful of teams that voted no and we weren’t one of them. Let’s put it that way."

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