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Dan Gilbert knows this drill.
The Cleveland Cavaliers owner has dealt with more than one star player who had his foot out the door.
He sat down for an interview with Cleveland.com published Wednesday and talked about his past dealings with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, both of whom have left winning Cavs teams.
Gilbert: ‘Kyrie will leave Boston’
And he believes from what he sees now that Irving fully intends to leave the Boston Celtics in free agency.
“I don’t know, but I think Kyrie will leave Boston,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert: Cavs ‘killed it’ with Irving deal
The Cavs dealt Irving to the rival Celtics in 2017, believing that he intended to leave at the end of his contract that expires this summer and wanting to net something in return.
They received a broken-down Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round draft pick that turned into Collin Sexton for Irving. They later traded Thomas, Channing Frye and their own first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
Faced with the prospect of seeing Irving eventually walk in free agency, Gilbert had high praise for general manager Koby Altman for making the Irving deal.
“We could have ended up with nothing,” Gilbert said. “Looking back after all the moves Koby made, we killed it in that trade.”
Gilbert confirms knee-surgery rumor
Three role players are certainly better than nothing, even if they gave up an All-Star in the process. And Sexton has a decent amount of upside coming off an effort that earned him NBA All-Rookie second-team honors.
But “killed it?” The Eastern Conference standings this season don’t exactly support that assessment.
Gilbert also confirmed the long-cited report that Irving’s team used his knee trouble as leverage to force a deal out of town by threatening to have surgery during his time remaining in Cleveland.
“The agent was telling us, if we don’t trade him, there is some surgery he is on the borderline of having on his knee,” Gilbert said. “It was possible he could be out for most of the year. It turned out to be true.”
Gilbert: Cavs were ready for LeBron to leave
As for James, Gilbert told Cleveland.com that the Cavs weren’t as blindsided by his departure to the Lakers last offseason as his unexpected exit to the Miami Heat in 2010.
“Unless someone has at least verbally committed, you had to assume that could happen,” Gilbert said. “We were better prepared this time around."
That’s not exactly a groundbreaking revelation. Gilbert didn’t write a scathing, petulant Comic Sans rant chastising a “narcissistic” James for leaving the second time around.
It turns out that one championship goes a long way on the emotional front.
Gilbert didn’t expound much on why he believes Irving will leave Boston. He’s done little during his tenure to convey that he has much working knowledge of basketball operations.
But we’re guessing in this case, he’s on to something.
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