If you haven’t heard, LeBron James has the option to become a free agent this summer.
The speculation surrounding what LeBron may do this summer is one of the biggest conversations in the NBA. One of the key aspects of his decision that many have focused on is the relationship with Dan Gilbert.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, James opened up about his relationship with the Cavs owner:
James was also not in favor of the Cavs’ parting ways with general manager David Griffin last summer. But he said he continues to have a working relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who had the highest payroll in the league this season and added more when current GM Koby Altman remade the team by bringing in four new players to help the Cavs pivot on the season.
”It’s not about me and Dan -- we have a great working relationship,” James told Nichols. “It’s not like we’re not the best friends, and I don’t think you should be best friends with a player, and an owner shouldn’t be best friends unless I’m your father and that’s my son, and, OK, cool we could be great then. But I think it’s worked out for us both in these four years so far since I’ve been back.”
The first and most obvious takeaway from this is that LeBron is going to own the Cavs and find a way to get Bronny Jr. on the team. The second, and real one, would be that it’s certainly not a bad thing that he indicates that he and Gilbert have a positive working relationship.
In a way, the distance between he and the front office almost insulates LeBron from criticism. The rift with Kyrie Irving, the issues with the moves made over the past year are primarily put on the organization. While a few talking heads will point the finger at LeBron, the vast majority of people put the blame on the organization.
The parts of the interview that deal with the front office seem to indicate a satisfaction with the working relationship. They may work separate, but they are working towards a common goal.
But of course, the interview wouldn’t be complete without some ominous language for dramatic purposes.
“I’ve tried to put this franchise at a level that is always seen in a positive light,” James said. “From a basketball standpoint, from a social standpoint, from a brand standpoint. I get a lot of the light and the headlines, but I’m one, as long as I’m here playing for this franchise, when you see the Cavaliers, I want you to think of prestige and a great organization.”
When Nichols asked if James’ relationship with Gilbert would affect his free-agency decision, James said, “We’re going to see.”
We’re reaching the point where mere weeks separate the Cavs from one of the most pivotal moments in franchise history. Whether LeBron leaves, commits long-term, or pushes the decision back for another year and brings back the drama next season remains to be seen.