CLEVELAND: As the Miami Heat hoisted their championship banner and LeBron James received his ring Tuesday night, Dan Gilbert conceded he regrets guaranteeing the Cavs would win a championship before James and the Heat.
“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.”
As part of Gilbert’s scathing letter the night James announced he was signing with the Heat, Gilbert wrote “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. You can take it to the bank.”
“In a way, it was like a little bit of a relief,” Gilbert said Tuesday, referring to the Heat’s championship. “If they didn’t win it, it would’ve been still another thing of ‘Who’s going to win it [first]?’ ”
As part of the new collective-bargaining agreement last year, the owners tried to make it more difficult for superteams to be built through free agency. The stiffer rules are a big reason why the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden over the weekend.
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. Yet stiffer cap penalties and nuances within the new CBA almost forced them to trade Harden.
Gilbert thought the Thunder made a great trade and said the lesson the Cavaliers learned from their summer of LeBron was illustrated by their decision to move Harden. Gilbert inferred if he had it to do over again, he would’ve traded James prior to his final season in Cleveland.
“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.”
Gilbert on Haslam
Gilbert said he had a 45-minute phone conversation recently with new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. The two exchanged emails and are trying to coordinate a date to meet.
Gilbert has been impressed thus far with Haslam.
“He seems like the right guy for this town,” Gilbert said. “Absolutely passionate about winning, that came across in the phone call with him. I think he’s going to be really good for Cleveland.”
Families all OK
Both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters have family on the East Coast (Irving in New Jersey, Waiters in Philadelphia), but both said their family was unharmed by Superstorm Sandy.
Irving watched plenty of the news coverage Monday night.
“It’s crazy to see all those horrific events happening,” Irving said. “I actually saw sharks swimming by somebody’s front door, which is weird. I wish all of them the best and I’m praying for them.”
A few of the Cavs players had difficulty getting to the shootaround Tuesday morning. Daniel Gibson, who lives in the western suburb of Westlake, had difficulty making it out of his development because of downed trees and closed roads.
Alonzo Gee lost his electricity and didn’t have a flashlight or candles.
“I had my laptop,” Gee said. “That was my only light. But it eventually died, so I was in the dark.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.