CLEVELAND: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said tonight he regrets guaranteeing the Cavaliers would win a championship before LeBron James and the Miami Heat. That ended, of course, in June when the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder for James' first championship.
"Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I've ever done in my life," Gilbert said. "If you're going to predict something that doesn't happen and you're going to do it publicly, you'd for sure take it back. When that happened, when they won, it was the end of the end of the end of that whole thing. Now there's nothing more to talk about."
Gilbert was asked about the new collective-bargaining agreement, which restricts teams to offering only one player a five-year contract and penalizes teams harsher for going over the cap. Gilbert was a proponent in stiffening the rules to prevent superteams from aligning, but in contrast, the stiffer rules are a big reason why the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden.
The Cavs are modeling themselves after the Thunder, who drafted a nucleus of young players and watched them blossom into one of the best teams in the league. Gilbert said the lesson the Cavaliers learned from their summer of LeBron was illustrated by the Thunder's decision to trade Harden.
"The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you cannot risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back," Gilbert said. "It's not the player's fault. That's on ownership. Had we done that, the whole thing would have been crafted as I'm sure the player or whoever would have said, 'Of course I would have stayed. You guys screwed up and ruined the whole franchise.' You're in a no-win situation with that."