Cavs owner says he's tired of speculation

Updated: April 15, 2005, 11:19 AM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert is tired of the rumors, innuendo and talk about LeBron James possibly leaving the Cavaliers.

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"Frankly, I don't know why he would leave Cleveland," Gilbert said Thursday.

In recent weeks, James' future in Cleveland has become a topic of speculation as the Cavaliers have faltered in their push toward the club's first NBA playoff appearance since 1998.

Gilbert, who took over the club on March 1, addressed the speculation surrounding James and other topics before Thursday night's game against the New York Knicks.

"It's definitely surprising to me," Gilbert said of the almost daily rumors. "You don't hear people say, 'When is Carmelo [Anthony] leaving Denver? Or when is Dwyane Wade leaving Miami?' It seems to be what is going to happen with LeBron?"

James, in his second season, has two more years left on his rookie contract and can become an unrestricted free agent after his fifth pro season.

But Gilbert, an online mortgage magnate who purchased the Cavaliers for $375 million from Gordon Gund, has no intention of letting James bolt. With James as the centerpiece, Gilbert's plans are to build a team capable of winning multiple titles.

"Let's get it right, LeBron is here for three more years," Gilbert said, pounding a fist into his open hand for emphasis. "People don't understand the collective bargaining agreement or how it works. We hope he's here for his whole career and we're going to do what we can to make that happen. We're very optimistic."

The Cavaliers entered Thursday's game in the No. 7 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and Gilbert is upset with the perception that he and his ownership group have been hurting the Cavs since taking over.

Gilbert fired coach Paul Silas on March 22, a move he said was essential for the Cavs to make the postseason. Gilbert also denied having direct involvement in deciding which players are on the floor.

"I came from the financial world and people don't print false rumors," he said. "There are things being written on a daily basis that are completely false. We don't meddle. We haven't ever told a coach who to play or who to sit down."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press