Conflict in Cleveland?
We’re a day away from the NBA draft, and if anyone had hopes that the Cavaliers would have a comprehensive plan put together at this point, it appears you’re going to be let down. Reports have emerged that while Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is set on drafting Kansas phenom Andrew Wiggins number 1 overall, the front office, including general manager David Griffin, is leaning towards taking Jabari Parker out of Duke. According to ESPN NBA insiders Jeff Goodman and Chad Ford, Gilbert became enamored with Wiggins after the former Jayhawks guard had a stellar workout for Cleveland last week. One can hardly blame him on that front; by all accounts Parker’s workout was less than stellar, triggering rumors that he was out of shape, disinterested, even that he tanked the workout out of a preference to get drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks at number 2.
At this point it’s unclear which party will get to make the final call on the pick. Ford tweeted that, in a similar scenario last year, Mike Brown and the front office execs wanted Anthony Bennett, while Gilbert preferred Victor Oladipo. Gilbert relinquished control and let Brown and the front office decide, and Bennett rewarded his investment of faith with 4 points and 3 rebounds a game. “He’ll have a stronger voice this year,” Ford says of Gilbert in his tweet, and based on that track record, who can blame him?
Gilbert, for his part, is steadfastly denying that there is any conflict in his camp. “Nonsense. We are united.” he tweeted in response to another Ford tweet stating his preference for Wiggins, and the front office’s for Parker. Coming from the man who wrote a letter guaranteeing a championship for Cleveland before one for LeBron, however, one can’t help but feel his promises ring just a little empty.
This conflict would be irrelevant had Joel Embiid been able to keep himself healthy. General consensus says the Cavs were unanimous in taking Embiid, Wiggins’ teammate at Kansas, number 1 overall until Emiid’s impending foot surgery cast doubts on his potential playing time and durability. Since Embiid’s been taken out of the equation, Cleveland has been focused on Parker and Wiggins, and Gilbert can deny all he wants, there is disparity within the organization. “They’re torn,” as an anonymous source said to ESPN.com Tuesday, “they met for 3 hours and all they talked about were those guys.”
If they are torn, and Gilbert is on Wiggins’ side, it seems likely that Wiggins will end up being the number 1 overall pick. Gilbert already proved earlier this off-season that he isn’t averse to going above his executives when he offered John Calipari the head coaching job before organizational choice, and eventual head coach, David Blatt. Numerous sources have commented on how bad Parker’s workout was, and if Gilbert really did sit back and allow Bennett to be drafted instead of Oladipo last year, it’s understandable he’ll have a harder time staying quiet this year. At the end of the day, the only concrete fact we can take away from this is that no one knows for sure what the Cleveland Cavaliers will do on draft night, least of all the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Written by Zach Scott (@ztscott)