National Basketball Association
Cavs owner reveals the lesson he learned with LeBron James after passing on Draymond Green
National Basketball Association

Cavs owner reveals the lesson he learned with LeBron James after passing on Draymond Green

Published Jun. 8, 2016 4:30 p.m. ET

When you think about it, the fact that LeBron James is currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers is pretty ridiculous.

James' original departure and the whole "Decision" kerfuffle made for an extraordinarily tense situation in Cleveland. Who can forget Dan Gilbert's infamous Comic Sans letter, in which the the Cavs owner unloaded an emotional salvo against LeBron for betraying his home? That's the kind of thing that would burn every bridge we'd ever built in Cleveland if we were LeBron.

Yet James got over it -- more or less -- and returned to the Cavaliers. His return has come with a pretty big caveat so far, though. The King has signed consecutive contracts that essentially amount to one-year deals, keeping the pressure on the Cavs to keep building championship contenders. 

Whether LeBron's strategy has worked on the court is an open question, with Cleveland on its way to a second consecutive Finals loss. Either way, though, it's a remarkable amount of leverage for an NBA player to have; according to Gilbert, in fact, it's the kind of leverage he swore he'd never give another player. Yet here we are, with James fully in control of Cleveland's basketball destiny.


So why did Gilbert change his mind and agree to LeBron's one-year-at-a-time plan? Believe it or not, it all comes back to Draymond Green -- but in a way that has nothing to do with actual basketball.


It seems absurd to imagine Gilbert shutting down the idea of LeBron returning to Cleveland in any scenario. But with the kind of decision-making the Cavs owner displayed with his letter, we can't rule out that he would have held firm on his terms in a misguided effort to get James to budge.

And there's no reason to imagine that LeBron would have changed his terms if Gilbert hadn't acquiesced. James seems to enjoy having the kind of flexibility that comes with his one-year deals. We're not saying that he'd consider leaving Cleveland -- not in the next few years, anyway. 

But this is LeBron. He's left before; he could very easily do it again down the line. If he does win a title for the Cavs, then it's mission accomplished, and he can go hang out with The Brotherhood in the twilight of their careers. If he doesn't, well, he gave it his best shot, right? Who can blame him if he decides he needs to move on once more?

Everyone. Everyone would blame him -- and especially Dan Gilbert. But that didn't stop him last time.


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