It’s no secret that LeBron James hasn’t always been happy with the front office of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and one ought not to forget that he’s reached loggerheads with owner Dan Gilbert before as well.
Perhaps it’s safe to say that King James isn’t exactly tickled that Gilbert has decided to part ways with general manager David Griffin, the architect of a squad that has reached three consecutive NBA Finals -- winning it all in 2016.
Take a look at the Tweet James sent out into space:
If no one appreciated you Griff I did, and hopefully all the people of Cleveland! Thanks for what u did for the team for 3 yrs! We got us 1🏆— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 20, 2017
Crazy as it may seem, multiple reports suggest that Gilbert and Griffin have differing views on how the Cavs should go about boosting their roster in an attempt to chase down the Golden State Warriors next season.
Griffin wanted the power to make personnel decisions with, presumably, a rubber stamp from the owner.
Gilbert apparently is not entirely keen on that idea, so he cut bait with his GM ahead of the expiration of his four-year contract. Nothing new there; Gilbert has had four general managers in 12 years, never extending one.
The timing on this party raises more eyebrows.
With the Cavs’ championship-chasing window possibly closing next summer -- when some observers believe James will opt of his contract and take his services to one of the NBA teams in Los Angeles -- Cleveland’s boss of bosses is antsy.
Think of another Clevelander, late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and you get a picture (although Gilbert actually lives in Detroit).
There are plenty who believe James, an Akron native, would like to close out his NBA career in L.A., where he owns a luxurious Brentwood mansion, and has an office on the Warner Brothers studio lot.
He’s been loyal to Ohio in returning to the Cavs after four seasons, four trips to the Finals, and two titles with the Miami heat. Yet, he’s fulfilled the promise he made to fans in his native state when he said he’d win a championship upon his return.
James is one of the NBA’s great talkers, with a sharp mind. Typically, his tongue is not sharp, yet he has a way of making points.
With the Cavs slumping at mid-season, James openly lamented the team’s shortage of depth.
Soon thereafter, Griffin found a way to swing sharpshooter Kyle Korver in a trade with the Hawks, and he signed backup point guard Deron Williams, a former Olympic teammate of James’. He even signed center Andrew Bogut, a member of the previous two Golden State teams that split titles with the Cavs, although Bogut broke a leg in his first minute with the team.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to wrangle the Warriors – who are in the conversation for best NBA team ever – yet Cleveland was the only team in the league that even had a shot. Golden State arrived in the Finals 12-0 in the postseason to the Cavs’ 12-1.
There are a number of good NBA teams making personnel decisions with the idea of shooting for the title not next year because the Warriors’ youngish roster looks to be in a golden state for at least another season to where they’re practically un-catchable in the near term.
This owner’s not making that concession; he wants another ring ASAP.
Funny thing is, Gilbert’s ambition might be blind.
It’s reasonable, isn’t it, to wonder if he may have accelerated the demise of the Cavs by increasing the odds of James leaving by jettisoning the designer of maybe the only squad close enough to Golden State to considering going for it now?
The NBA draft is Thursday at 7 p.m., and free agency will begin soon.
Cleveland’s top two personnel men are gone, though, as Griffin also said good-bye to his assistant general manager. So who’s going to make the calls in the coming days? Griffin? Scouts?
Whatever the mess, remember who’s the King. James has shown an ability to rule, but Griffin’s not going to hand him – or anyone – the keys to the castle.
Griffin holds them, but the emperor may have de-pantsed himself and prompted James to chase championships elsewhere.