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Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert thinks general manager Koby Altman “killed it” in the Kyrie Irving trade and doesn’t think Irving will return to the Boston Celtics in free agency.
“It becomes a melting snowball,” Gilbert told Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com in an exclusive interview. “We had to trade him when we did. What team would want Kyrie with only one year on his contract knowing he could leave after the season? You won’t get much back (under those circumstances).”
“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. It was possible he could be out for most of the year. It turned out to be true.”
With those things in mind, Gilbert said the Cavs got as much back in return as they could for Irving. Today, that return is point guard Collin Sexton and backup center Ante Zizic. Irving is an all-star but many around the league (including his own teammates) have called him flaky, difficult. He now is a free agent again, and may be looking to move on again.
“I don’t know, but I think Kyrie will leave Boston,” Gilbert said. “We could have ended up with nothing. Looking back after all the moves Koby made, we killed it in that trade.”
Gilbert also talked on LeBron James’ departure, saying the franchise was better prepared for it this time around. James will be 35-years old in December and wasn’t going to be around forever anyway, so the team had already started some contingency plans.
“With LeBron, there was a limited shelf life in terms of his age and his contract commitment,’’ Gilbert said. “It’s a win now at all costs. … It all revolves around the sun, which is him. … Whatever pressure comes with it, it worked out. We won a title.”
The Cavaliers hired former Michigan man John Beilein as coach, and he is viewed as a culture-builder, teacher and someone who is well-respected by the players.
“This narrative that I drove this (Beilein hiring) is wrong,” Gilbert told Pluto. “A few weeks ago, Koby brought up John to me. I obviously knew who he was, but I never met him. Koby put the bug in my ear, and I became very interested.”