The fallout over the Cavaliers' surprising second-round exit from the playoffs is expected to be heavy, with coach Mike Brown eventually taking the fall while owner Dan Gilbert prepares to make a desperate appeal to keep LeBron James from leaving his franchise - and Cleveland - in ruins.
"Keep in mind that we really don't sit around - as great as LeBron James is - saying, 'How can we make him happy?' '' Gilbert said at a news conference at the Cavaliers' practice facility in Independence, Ohio. "What we do is strategize and say how can this team come together and give us the best chance of winning."
The Cavs hope they will have James' fierce loyalty to their benefit, but Kevin Garnett offered a word of advice about how sticking with a franchise isn't always the best thing for a player.
"Loyalty is something that hurts you at times," Garnett said after Thursday's series clincher. He recalled his own career, in which he stayed with the Minnesota Timberwolves while the team slowly degraded from a playoff contender to a lottery team. Garnett finally agreed to a trade to Boston in July 2007 and won his first NBA title 11 months later. "I can honestly say that if I could go back and do my situation over, knowing what I know now with this organization," he said, "I'd have done it a little sooner."
On the same day the Atlanta Hawks fired Mike Woodson, Gilbert denied a report by SI.com that said he already had decided to fire Brown. But Gilbert hardly sounded committed.
"We are right now going through the evaluation process," he said. "We're talking to coach Brown, talking to Danny Ferry, getting all the information. I don't think it's a secret that head coaching will be one of the things that gets evaluated.''
Speculation has been that James - who, it should be noted, endorsed Brown as the best choice when Paul Silas was fired - would suggest the Cavs hire John Calipari. And if they don't, the Chicago Bulls are believed to be considering it if it means luring James to sign with them this summer.
James has great respect for Calipari and visited him last summer to discuss the philosophy of Calipari's dribble-drive offense. James' greatest issue with Brown involved his unimaginative offensive strategy, which did little to maximize the supporting cast of Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison.
But Calipari, who is closely connected to James through an influential member of his entourage, noted basketball attaché William Wesley, continued to deny rumors that he will be involved as a key figure in the LeBronathon. Via Twitter on Friday morning, Calipari said, "I've said many times that I've got the best job in the country. Still the speculation runs wild, and I can't stop that . . . I want to address this with the Big Blue Nation one last time, I will be coaching at Kentucky next year.''
The Knicks, at least, can feel confident that they already have Mike D'Antoni and his dynamic offense. Their issue involves a lack of players, which can be solved if Donnie Walsh also can bring in a high-end big man such as Chris Bosh in a sign-and-trade with the Raptors. And this is exactly why Walsh made the Tracy McGrady trade in February to clear that extra cap space.
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