The Cleveland Cavaliers’ infamous team meeting in late January just got infamous-er.
Not only did the gathering of the struggling Cavaliers lead teammates to question Kevin Love’s recent illness-related absence, but it reportedly involved LeBron James’ cursing out two team executives, and might have been spurned by the four-time MVP’s loss of input in personnel decisions.
The pivot away from James’ wishes has been noticeable, particularly since this is a franchise that since losing him in 2010 has been willing to do — and spend — whatever was necessary to get him back and keep him happy. James and (Cavs owner Dan) Gilbert have no relationship. Neither do James and (GM Koby) Altman, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Whereas (former GM David) Griffin would consult with James and keep him informed of major roster decisions, that is no longer happening. James doesn’t trust this front office, and there is no communication now between management and star player. It perhaps played a role in James yelling and cursing at multiple front office executives during the now-famous team meeting a couple of weeks ago that began with players questioning Kevin Love’s absence from a recent practice. Multiple sources confirmed James cursed toward at least two team executives during the heated meeting.
LeBron’s say in the direction of the franchise apparently began to slip from him over the offseason, when the team replaced Griffin and traded Irving against the Cavs forward’s wishes. Since then, “the Cavs have been noticeably pivoting away from James’ recommendations,” according to Lloyd.
No wonder the team has been melting down on the floor, losing 13 of their last 19, including an embarrassing defeat to the 116-98 Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, in which the Cavs scored just nine fourth-quarter points.
Despite the struggles, James said he’d never waive his no-trade clause to play for another team this season.
“I’m here for the long haul,” James said after Tuesday’s loss. “I’m here for this season right now, try to figure out ways we can still compete. I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do it. We put too much into the game every single day. We go out and prepare. Win, lose or draw, at the end of the day, we’re all brothers, and we understand that. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
While this sounds like a message of loyalty, it conveniently also screws over Gilbert, with whom he has a famously prickly relationship—by refusing to be traded, LeBron is preventing the team from getting any assets for him before he leaves this summer, which now feels all the more inevitable.