“The Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA title before the self-titled former ‘King’ wins one.”
That was Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert back in 2010. Right after LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Miami Heat.
The Quicken Loans founder was wrong, of course.
The Cavs went 97-215 while LeBron was in Miami.
Instead of success, Gilbert found himself with three No. 1 picks and two No. 4s in the span of LeBron’s four-year absence. Outside of taking Kyrie Irving first in 2011, the franchise didn’t do much with the picks, selecting Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, arguably the biggest draft bust of all time in Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins, who was sent to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade.
Which is what makes a recent report from the league’s foremost LeBronologist, Brian “The Horst Whisperer” Windhorst.
“Dan Gilbert believes that he can build a championship team without LeBron, and I think he is looking forward to trying,” the reporter told the “Hoop Collective” podcast.
“I don’t think he necessarily wants it to be next year, but I think Dan Gilbert would like to make a run of it.”
Good for him.
Good, too, for cap-strapped teams like the Rockets and Celtics, whose paths to landing LeBron may require Gilbert’s cooperation.
Last season, instead of losing Paul for nothing, the Clippers agreed to trade the point guard to the Rockets after he opted into the final year of his deal. That netted Paul’s former team a haul of useful players and a first-round pick.
For the Cavs and Rockets to follow this model, LeBron would have to play along, Cleveland would likely have to be interested in Gordon and/or Tucker, and Houston would probably have to find a third team to take on Anderson with draft assets attached. Luckily, there are a few tanking teams with cap space, such as the Bulls and the Nets, who should be willing to take on bad money money for draft picks.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle in this scenario would be convincing awful Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to help LeBron leave Cleveland, even though his refusal would mean watching the four-time MVP leave with nothing to show for it for a second time.
If the Cavs owner is serious about building a contender without LeBron, he should pray the superstar’s offseason destination doesn’t have the cap space to sign him.