But they do have one of the best front offices they’ve ever had, according to owner Dan Gilbert.
Speaking on a Friday conference call to media and Wine & Gold United members, Gilbert acknowledged there are frustrations with the Cavs’ 2018-19 season, which is the start of the second post-LeBron James era in a half-decade. But he took a decidedly different approach — either positive or unrealistic, depending on your perspective — in discussing Cleveland’s prospects under current general manager Koby Altman.
“I think the front office is in the best shape it’s ever been,” Gilbert said. “At least in the 12 or 13 years I’ve been in Cleveland. You have people who are very, very smart, very dedicated. Understand metrics, understand the game, understand drafting, understand trades.”
Gilbert’s comments, of course, come just five months after the Cavs watched James leave for the Los Angeles Lakers and handed Kevin Love a big-money extension before an 0-6 start, the dismissal of coach Tyronn Lue and the subsequent trades of veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver. At 7-22 in mid-December, there’s little the team’s salary cap would suggest the Cavs can do before next summer.
Ask Gilbert, however, and he’s under the impression the team is not bound for another years-long lull after LeBron’s departure.
“I know the record doesn’t reflect it if you judge everything on record this year,” he said, “but I really believe from a business standpoint and across the basketball operations, it has the best people, more people swimming in the same direction than we’ve ever had. It just feels way different, way better, more optimistic … We feel we have more assets, more talent to trade — not necessarily to trade but more assets to deal with — options to trade if we want to or to make moves to improve the team so, that’s the good news.”
As for the timetable? Gilbert seems to think Cleveland, back in action against Memphis on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET — watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension), will return as a contender sooner rather than later.
“The first time [after James left], we did end up making a ton of moves and being able to deliver a championship to Cleveland and a lot of that work started in those four years,” he said. “I don’t think it will be four years here before you start seeing significant improvement.”