Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and franchise player LeBron James don’t see eye to eye on the issue of payroll.
James feels the Cavaliers need to spend more to bolster the roster, but Gilbert doesn’t share that viewpoint and thus the two sides are at odds, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
After losing six of eight games, James has put on the full-court press by demanding the Cavaliers acquire another playmaker. He vented in an expletive-laden tirade after Tuesday’s game, and then reiterated his wishes on Twitter.
Cavaliers general manager David Griffin fired back Wednesday by calling James’ critiques “misguided” and reassured him the team is not complacent in their efforts to repeat as champion. The two sides have since brokered a meeting.
One of the main conditions in James’ homecoming was for Gilbert to spend unconditionally, Windhorst reports. The two sides sat down for several meetings before Gilbert caved, thus paving the way for James to rejoin the Cavaliers in 2014.
James held up his end of the bargain by carrying the Cavaliers to two Finals, and winning the championship last summer to snap Cleveland’s 45-year title drought. Despite their recent struggles, all signs point to another Finals appearance for James and the Cavs this season.
In Gilbert’s defense, he did open up the wallet. Cleveland has the league’s highest payroll and is on track to pay the luxury tax for a third straight year. No team has spent more than Cleveland since James returned home.
However, despite exhaustive efforts to give James more pieces, the Cavaliers do still have options left at their disposal. They have an open roster spot and two traded player exceptions that could be used to acquire players, while a number of veterans have expressed interest in joining the Cavs. Those moves would come down to money, however; Cleveland is paying the repeater tax and any additions would cost multitudes more in tax along with existing salaries.