Dan Gilbert believes he can build a champion without LeBron James

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With LeBron James’ player option decision coming soon, Dan Gilbert has to prepare for the possibility that James doesn’t return to Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have a ton of questions to answer after getting swept in the NBA Finals by the Golden State Warriors. They have a few restricted free agents, a couple insane contracts and the biggest question of them all — will LeBron James return to Cleveland next season?

Regardless if James returns or not, Cavs GM Dan Gilbert has to put together a better roster than the one they trotted out this past season. They have the number eight pick in the draft, but what if James doesn’t return to Cleveland?

In all likelihood James is going to decline his $35.6 million dollar player option this summer. Whether he actually leaves or not is a different story. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst — who does not like having his words twisted, Cavs GM Dan Gilbert believes he can build a champion without James. As transcribed from his podcast by SLAM:

"Dan Gilbert believes that he can build a championship team without LeBron, and I think he is looking forward to trying.I don’t think he necessarily wants it to be next year, but I think Dan Gilbert would like to make a run of it."

Not only is Gilbert confident in his abilities to put together a champion, but it sounds like he might be looking forward to it. Gilbert’s confidence is commendable, but nothing new at the same time. What kind of GM would he be if he didn’t believe he could build a champion without James?

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At the same time we have already seen what he can do as far as assembling a team without James, and that didn’t go very well. He hit on drafting Kyrie Irving, but Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett never really panned out. It lead to the Cavs having the worst record over the three years James was gone in the NBA.

So while he may be able to build a viable contender sometime down the road, history is not in Gilbert’s favor.