Dan Gilbert On Future Of Cavs

It’s been a tumultuous season in Cleveland. The team hasn’t lived up to expectations by posting a 20-33 record. The Andrew Bynum experiment was a failure. The team has had chemistry issues. The big trade for Luol Deng hasn’t paid off the way they hoped, and their first-overall draft pick Anthony Bennett is averaging 3.8 PPG. All these issues resulted in the firing of GM Chris Grant two weeks ago, and has coach Mike Brown on the hot seat. Things might be starting to look up for the team, as they entered the break riding a four-game win streak, and the players’ outlook seems to be improving. Team owner Dan Gilbert recently sat down with Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. The whole interview is worth a look, but here are some of the highlights from the piece:

On why the season has been such a disappointment:

Up until the last week and maybe the road trip before that, the season overall has not hit our expectations. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason. We needed to figure out who we are. Who we are as a team and as a franchise and make sure we’re all headed in the same direction. I think it has taken a little bit longer to gel from a chemistry standpoint. Some of that is non-tangible, but to me not just basketball but all organizations, there has to be a chemistry where people trust each other, believe in each other from the front office to the coaching staff to the players. There was a lot of static this year. A lot of that is expected as normal growing pains from a young team, but I think there was more than people expected.”

On if he regrets saying the team wouldn’t be back in the lottery:

I think that was in response to questions. Obviously when a reporter asks you a question when you’ve been at the lottery three years in a row, I don’t think it shows much confidence to your fan base or anything that you’re not going to feel pretty good about not being there for the fourth year in a row. We didn’t go pump our hands and say, ‘We’re winning the NBA championship this year!’ I think it’s a good goal to say we’re going to make the playoffs. No one said make the playoffs, do or die. I think it’s a reasonable goal, so no, I don’t regret it.”

On why it’s important to make the playoffs this year, in spite of what is deemed to be such a strong draft:

It appears to be a rich class at the top, but nobody knows for sure. It’s not just being in the lottery. Most likely you’re going to have to be among the worst five to seven teams in the league to have a significant chance. We didn’t view it as, ‘You’re either going to get one of the top five guys or be in the playoffs.’ We didn’t think we’d be anywhere near the worst five to seven teams, so we think it’s a good goal to make the playoffs. Plus for these young guys, it’s going to be an important step to take to feel the organization is on the right path to feel confident about where we’re going and they’re going.”

On what he’s looking for in his next GM:

We’re looking for somebody besides the basketball knowledge, who understands the human equation. Understands and feels the importance of culture and chemistry and connectivity and openness, is open to ideas from anywhere and anyone, from all places, and can connect with people and can understand how important it is. Someone who will turn over every possible stone and be open to every possible innovation, creativity, idea from anywhere to give us that edge that we’ll need.”

On if their four-game winning streak has changed their trade deadline approach:

It’s hard to know for sure because you can’t live it two different ways. I don’t know if we’d lost four more what we’d be thinking now. Everyone thinks there’s long periods of time to think about the trade deadline, but you really don’t have that. Things are so fluid and changing and those other teams don’t show their hands until a day or two before. You can only have as good of a trade as your options or opportunities.”

On how important it is to re-sign Deng:

We love Luol for a lot of reasons, which everybody knows. Besides the kind of player he is, the kind of person he is and the kind of leader he is by example. But you can’t make these decisions in a vacuum. You have to look at all the pieces and see where you’re going to be.”

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