For those that think Dan Gilbert’s letter to fans regarding LeBron James was over the top, take a moment to investigate the reasons why Gilbert may have felt that way. Brian Windhorst does a great job giving us a glimpse inside the Cavaliers day-to-day operations.
In every trade Gilbert made, he took on more money than he sent out, his payroll spiraling into the luxury tax and then more deeply into the tax. Each, whether it was for Ben Wallace or Mo Williams or Shaquille O’Neal or Antawn Jamison, came only as James signed off. Yet when it was time to sign free agents, James would not commit to the future.
It left the team being forced to improve mostly through trades, deals they often made with the short term in mind that required them to give up future assets in the form of draft picks and prospects. Largely it worked, as the Cavs became one of the league’s most successful teams.
Gilbert hired one of James’ friends and paid him more than some assistant coaches to hang out with the team so James would be comfortable. Gilbert allowed members of James’ management team to fly on the team jet. He spent $25 million to construct a practice facility that was located 20 minutes closer to James’ home than the old one. He rebuilt the locker room. He hired a masseur to travel on the road because James likes massages.
Perhaps that helps shed some light on the situation.