The View From Pluto: It's Time For Dan Gilbert And LeBron James To Return To The Table

Feb 7, 2018

The Cavs will likely be making some changes ahead of tomorrow’s NBA trade deadline. The struggling team posted another embarrassing loss last night, 116-98 to the Orlando Magic. They also blew a 21-point lead in the game. But, the problems appear to go beyond what’s happening on the court. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says most of the drama surrounding the Cavs centers on the relationship between its owner and its biggest star.

Pluto says Dan Gilbert and LeBron James need to return to the table, similar to the one they gathered around in Miami in 2014, when they worked out an agreement for James to return to Cleveland. 

"These two guys who don't particularly like each other, knew they needed each other to win a title in Cleveland. That was the one common goal they had." And Pluto says it's been downhill since they accomplished that goal in 2016.

Losing their mediator 
Pluto says a turning point for the team was last summer, when Dan Gilbert fired then-general manager David Griffin. "When the coach was battling one of the players, Griffin encouraged them to sit down and talk about it. Or if Lebron's unhappy with something going on in ownership, he would work it out between the two of them."

They both need to look each other in the eye and say, 'What's it going to take to move forward?'"

"Griffin was respected by the players and the NBA. That is the missing piece here and that has allowed a lot of these little things to become big things," Pluto says. 

And Pluto says the general manger who took over, 35-year-old Koby Altman, is not as experienced as Griffin. 

A frustrated star
Pluto says there's a big difference of opinion about what's gone wrong. "LeBron doesn't think ownership is doing all it should. The front office is looking at LeBron, who's played like garbage since Christmas, and they say he's not leading the way he should. These guys need to talk."

And Pluto says James and Gilbert have different needs. "Gilbert would say, 'It would help me in terms of making moves if I knew you were going to come back next year.' LeBron would say, 'I can't commit to next year until I see what moves you're going to make to make us better.'

They both need to look each other in the eye and say, 'What's it going to take to move forward?'"

Golden State and sale rumors
In the meantime, Pluto says it's allowed tension to build  among players and rumors to circulate.

He calls one report that James will consider playing for the Golden State Warriors next year "silly." And he says he's looked into reports that Gilbert is looking to sell the team. "He's actually been buying out some of the minor owners. Gilbert owns about 75 percent of the team. Gordon Gund still has about 15 percent stake. And there's a bunch of other people with little crumbs of the pie. And [Gilbert's] just bringing in more crumbs. So I don't think he's looking to sell."