NEW YORK — How stupid would it be to swap jockeys in the backstretch of a winnable race?
Not nearly as dumb, I submit, as switching ownership, coaches and point guards (and back again), as well as providing conspicuously lame support for the general manager of a playoff positioned team within a five-week span.
That’s not change it’s upheaval.
Leaving us with no guessing games as to why the Cleveland Cavaliers, victimized in 15 of their last 22 struggles, are plunging out of the post-season portrait.
Why they were unable to overcome personal slumps and collective inconsistency.
Why they’re playing like verses out of rhythm and couplets out of rhyme.
Why they’ve gotten worse rather than better since Dan Gilbert and his henchmen of hoops (and their consultants) came into power and advanced the spread of instability instead of stamping it out.
Acting like your everyday multimillionaire megalomaniac, Gilbert wants everybody who hasn’t fallen for his fluctuating mortgage rates to know him by sight, sound and fury, if not by reputation and illicit moneymaking origin.
Wants everyone to think he’s just as smart about professional basketball as he was in building Quicken Loans into a booming business; and why not, the guy’s from Michigan, home of Magic Johnson and the three-time NBA champion Pistons.
Gilbert wants to show everyone he’s the next Mark Cuban.
On the job but a jiffy and Gilbert was on Paul Silas’ case, questioning his methodology, wondering his reason for doing this and not doing that, second guessing his substitutions pattern, or lack thereof.
Nothing like curbing your hand-me-down coach’s enthusiasm. So much for inspiring him to end his long-established stubborn streak and navigate the Cavaliers past the coroner’s office. So much for the benefit of a stimulating motivational speech.
Clearly, that’s not what Gilbert had in mind. In his world of riches and plenty everyone below is expendable if business bogs down or things aren’t going right, and that means super salesmen and staggering coaches as well as leftover management and rising high-priced free agents; Zydrunas Ilgauskas beware.
So, nobody within the organization was slightly surprised when Silas cleverly figured out how to get fired shortly thereafter with over $9 million left on his 2-year plus contract.
Forbidden by Gilbert to radically release starting guard Jeff McInnis, Silas simply reduced him to his lowest terms by withholding his services for the full 48 minutes against the Raptors March 20, a solemn loss considering Lebron James flushed 56.
Aside from his character flaws, there are few worse defending the pick and roll than McInnis. Still, he averages 15 points and five assists and, in Thursday’s Ohio papers, James pointed squarely at his teammate’s bizarre “yet unexplained” benching and subsequent role as a reserve for 10 games as the calamitous cause for the Cavaliers’ chemical imbalance.
“There has been so many things going on over the last month that I don’t have any reaction anymore,” James said following some pulp non-fiction (minus Ilgauskas for a week or so; dislocated ring finger) administered by the Pacers. And the Cavs have played accordingly.
James gives every appearance of caring about his teammates and his team, one game ahead of the 76ers and three games up on the Nets in the loss column for the East’s final two tournament spots going into last night.
On the other hand, McInnis only cares about you know whom.
A few days ago he expressed discomfort with his backup role; apparently he has to be paid a lot more than $3.6 million to accept that kind of degradation. In fact, McInnis informed interim coach Brendan Malone he would rather not play at all than understudy Eric Snow.
That cost the free agent-to-be (and the Cavs) another full game of pine time, a mortifying home trouncing by the Nets.
“When Gilbert’s group bought the Cavaliers I thought it was 75-25 Lebron would extend his contract at the appropriate time,” a former team employee declared. “In five weeks that percentage has dropped to 40-60.
“If they don’t make the playoffs Lebron might very well demand a trade.”
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