Cavs 365 Columns

Tension Growing Between LeBron and Owner Dan Gilbert over Cavs payroll

News came out today that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers front office are at odds and the main reason for the tension this time is centered around how the team has spent their payroll this season.

For about the last month James has not been shy in reiterating that the team needs to add another piece or two in order to repeat as NBA champions. This stance by James was only enhanced this past week when he was critical of the team’s recent struggles and said the team is “top heavy” and the Cavs needs another “f–king playmaker.”

James took to Twitter the next day to clarify his comments, saying, “I not mad or upset at management cause (general manager David Griffin) and staff have done a great job, I just feel we still need to improve in order to repeat…if that’s what we wanna do.”

This comment by James was seen as a shot at the Cavs organization, seemingly hinting that the organization may have gotten complacent after winning the championship last season.  Griffin took exception to these comments and fired back by saying, “Organizationally, there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our goal set is. We are here to win championships, and there is no other solution, there is no other outcome that is acceptable, and there never has been.”

Brian Windhorst from ESPN had this to say regarding the tension between James and the front office.

Tension between LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ leadership is centered around payroll spending, multiple sources told ESPN. James and team owner Dan Gilbert have different viewpoints on the issue, and it has been straining the relationship, sources said.

 When James was considering a return to the Cavs in 2014, he pressed Gilbert on whether he’d be willing to spend unconditionally on talent, regardless of the luxury-tax cost, sources said. Over the course of several meetings with James and his representatives, Gilbert agreed, and James subsequently signed with the team.

While head coach Tyronn Lue talked to the media today, it was clear he was bothered by what James has said over the last few days.

“It makes (the situation) tough, and I hate it. I gotta come and deal with you guys every time it happens. I’ve always been a man. I don’t like when people come out and say sources say and this and that. Listen, if you can’t put your name behind it then don’t say it. I don’t believe in ‘sources say.’ I tell you guys all the time, if I say it, I say it.” Lue said. “We gotta focus on basketball, getting back to winning. We’re the third-best team in the NBA right now. We’re a great team, we’re the champs, so we just got to get back to playing championship basketball. That’s it.”

As for their play on the court, the Cavs came out last night at home and played wildly inconsistent for much of the game, resulting in a 116-112 overtime loss to the 18-27 Sacramento Kings. There was not as much fanfare after the loss, but it is quite obvious that the same problems still persist for the Cavs, who fell to 5-7 in January.

James was much quieter after the loss on Wednesday, giving short answers to the media’s questions during his usual postgame press conference. One reporter asked for James’ reaction about the rumblings of the proposed Carmelo Anthony trade offer, to which James replied, “ I have no reaction, we have 14 guys in here that need to be ready every night and we gotta play, we can’t play fantasy basketball.”

After he left the arena, James once again took to social media to voice he thoughts on the Cavs struggles saying, “Lately taken L’s, but very soon we’ll bounce back. Boy, frustrating as hell, I know my team we’ll bounce back. If you a real one then you know how to bounce back.”

This stance by James seems quite different than what he was saying just the other day in New Orleans.  These social media antics by James are somewhat commonplace now as he has taken to Twitter to send cryptic messages before during his second stint with the Cavs. He called out teammate Kevin Love on Twitter in February of 2015 saying, “Stop trying to find a way to FIT-OUT and just FIT-IN. Be apart of something special! Just my thoughts.”

James’ comments will likely subside once the team finds a way out of this slump they are in, but if the Cavs do not make any moves to improve the team in the next month James will likely voice his opinion once again and it may be worse than what we all heard on Monday.

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