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Cavaliers need to put ego clashes aside, focus on winning again

Going into the 2017-18 NBA season, I was very optimistic about the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even after trading star point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston in August, I felt that the team had enough pieces to compete for the NBA Championship in June. Although the team was old and lacked chemistry, I was confident that LeBron James could be the glue that held this team together.

Unfortunately, my hopes for this Cavaliers’ team didn’t stand. It has been a rollercoaster of a season, and that’s an understatement. The team started off rather slow, going 5-7 before going on a 13 game win streak that caught many by surprise. This win streak came to an end, but the Cleveland fanbase was very excited to see the season debut of point guard Isaiah Thomas and the continuation of winning basketball. As many are aware, the Cavs aren’t winning. Whenever I watch the Cavs, I always ask myself, “How did a team who had won thirteen in a row and had played in three straight NBA Finals look this bad?” It’s a complex problem that could take hours to explain, but it boils down to two words: trust and relationships.

Dan Gilbert, the majority owner of the team, has been notorious for being an involved owner with team related affairs. In most cases, an involved owner is seen as a positive thing. Gilbert has been reportedly executing many of the basketball moves, stepping on the toes of the General Manager Koby Altman and the front office. The involvement of Gilbert defeats the intention of trusting people with basketball backgrounds to manage basketball-related responsibilities. This not only degrades trust but increases tension between management and ownership, which leads to a negative atmosphere that clouds every level of the organization.

LeBron and Gilbert also have a lack of trust and a strained relationship dating back to “The Decision” and “The Note” during the summer of 2010. When LeBron came back in 2014, it wasn’t because of a rekindled relationship with Gilbert. His main goal was to end a 52-year championship drought for the city of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. It is safe to say that LeBron and Gilbert’s relationship is not good, and getting worse. LeBron believes that Gilbert should take a step back and let the 33-year veteran influence who comes to the team and let the front office construct trades and signings to improve the team even further.

The bridges burnt by the lack of trust and bad relationships have faded into the past, but what can the Cavs do to salvage this season? There are three simple things that can happen to not only help this season, but save the organization from dysfunction down the road.

The first is for Gilbert to take a step back and allow the player management team to make basketball decisions with the team. Trusting the group he has put together will help the pressured relationship and allow the team to work better internally. Second, management needs to refrain from giving up future opportunities to win immediately. The Cavs have a prized first-round draft pick that can bring in talent and youth over the offseason. If the front office can shed salary and bring in youth through trade, the Cavaliers’ team can be solid for years to come. Lastly, everyone at every level of the organization needs to put their egos aside and get back to winning basketball. At the end of the day, the main goal for this team is to win a championship. If one piece of the machine isn’t doing its part, the full machine doesn’t run effectively. The organization needs to develop relationships based on trust and communication. At the end of the day, people won’t care about the stat line or how much money a player makes. When it’s all said and done, winning an NBA Championship, and winning one for the city of Cleveland, is one of the greatest accomplishments of all.

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