Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert Wishes He Had Traded LeBron James

by October 31, 2012

Imagine: The Decision, Dan Gilbert’s insane letter, Cavs fans burning #23 jerseys, and so on. None of that would have taken place had Gilbert had the foresight to trade away LeBron James when he wouldn’t sign a long-term extension in Cleveland prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2010. Dan Gilbert also wishes he wouldn’t have guaranteed a title for the Cavs prior to LBJ winning one in South Beach. From the Plain Dealer: “Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life,’ Gilbert said. That infamous letter the Cavaliers owner wrote to fans after LeBron James left for Miami in 2010, the one in which Gilbert declared in Comic Sans that the Cavaliers would win an NBA title before ‘the self-titled former ‘king’ wins one’ wasn’t his finest moment. Particularly now that James is collecting his first ring for winning the NBA championship in June. ‘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,’ Gilbert said. ‘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. In a way, it was like a little bit of a relief. If they didn’t win it, it would’ve been still another thing of who’s going to win it [first]?’ […] The entire experience, in fact, taught Gilbert a valuable — and pricey — lesson about how to handle high-profile free agents in the future. NBA teams no longer can wait for another decision from free agents. ‘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 can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it,’ Gilbert said. ‘It’s not the player’s fault. That’s on ownership.’ Of course, Gilbert also theorizes that acting first, trading a franchise player such as James — as Orlando did with Dwight Howard recently — instead of waiting for a free-agency decision might have backfired, as well. ‘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,’ Gilbert said. ‘You’re in a no-win situation with that.'”