Gilbert, Cavs staying the course
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — When you win the NBA Draft lottery with the eighth-worst record, it only makes sense to follow the same path.
“We’re trying to repeat the same route, the same clothes, the same people. We’re trying to do everything the exact same way,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said of the team’s approach to this year’s event. “We really are sort of superstitious with that stuff.”
Last year, the Cavs won the lottery with a pick obtained from the L.A. Clippers. They used it to draft Kyrie Irving, who will almost definitely be named Rookie of the Year within the next week.
This year, the Cavs enter the May 30 lottery with their own pick — having won a coin flip over New Orleans for the third-worst overall record. But as Gilbert noted in his address to the media at the team’s practice facility Wednesday, the Cavs will take the same approach.
Among them: Bringing back Nick Gilbert, the owner’s son who was viewed as a major good luck charm and became famous for his post-lottery line, “What’s not to like?”
“If he doesn’t get the first pick, he’ll be grounded all summer,” Gilbert joked.
But win the lottery or not, the Cavs will get another high pick. They can select no lower than sixth in the June 28 draft. They also own the Lakers’ first-rounder (No. 24 overall) and two early second-rounders (Nos. 33 and 34).
So it’s easy to understand why Gilbert referred to this draft as “very important,” the goal being to find young help to build alongside Irving and fellow rookie Tristan Thompson.
As Gilbert noted, you get one shot at the draft per year. And while trades and free agency will be part of the process, Cavs general manager Chris Grant and his staff are making the draft their top priority.
Makes sense, considering this is expected to be the deepest pool of talent to choose from in years — highlighted by names such as Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Florida’s Bradley Beal and Connecticut’s Andre Drummond.
With the right picks, Gilbert said, the Cavs could quickly rejoin the fun (and profit) of the postseason. Perhaps as soon as next season.
“We’re looking forward to the day, as soon as we possibly can, to get back into the playoffs,” Gilbert said.
That would be a pretty good-sized leap, as the Cavs finished the lockout-shortened season with a record of 21-45. The result: the team’s first back-to-back last-place finishes in the Central Division since the expansion era 40 years ago.
So there is nowhere to go but up, and for Gilbert and the Cavs, this offseason is expected to be a continuation of that trend. A couple of things that will remain the same, Gilbert stressed, are the statuses of Grant and head coach Byron Scott. The owner is pleased with the performance of both.
“We think Byron has been great for the franchise,” Gilbert said. “He is the consummate professional in every possible way. As you guys have seen, he hardly ever gets rattled one way or another. I think he brings stability to the team and the franchise; he brings credibility.”
Now, the Cavs just need to add to the roster — especially with the highly likely departures of veteran starters Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker.
“We learn from everything we do — right decisions made, wrong decisions made, right strategies, wrong strategies, and you try to repeat the things you do right and not repeat things that you didn’t do (right),” Gilbert said.
One of the things the Cavs learned is that an entire team (and not just one great player) is needed for a springboard to success.
“We want to build a franchise with Kyrie or with other superstars, not around superstars,” Gilbert said. “We think that’s probably not a great formula for success, right? Or else we would have rings already here. We would have championship trophies. We believe the ‘with’ is the key here, and we’re looking forward to adding more great pieces.”
And it all starts with repeating their good-luck approach to the lottery.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO