Last month Stephen A. Smith relayed to First Take viewers that according to his sources, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was looking to sell the team. That particular rumor was so unbelievable to the powers that be at ESPN that not even the First Take Twitter account tweeted it out, nor did it appear as a story on ESPN's own website. To add insult to injury, Stephen A. called anyone who took that report seriously "idiots" the following day.
But on Tuesday's show, Smith tossed out a theory (backed once again by "sources") where he said that Gilbert wants LeBron James gone. Based on ESPN's reaction to his latest report, this latest rumor holds a lot more weight.
“I am of the mindset that Dan Gilbert needs to take control of the narrative,” Smith said. “Dan Gilbert and LeBron James don’t get along. They do what they’ve gotta do because it’s business. They don’t get along. They don’t particularly like each other. Dan Gilbert wanted him to re-up at the beginning of the year for three to five years. LeBron said no. That’s when Dan Gilbert traded and brought Isaiah Thomas and [Jae] Crowder."
He continued: "I doubt seriously that a big time move is going to be made by the Cavs [at the trade deadline], because I don’t think Dan Gilbert wants to start anew. My sources tell me, you’ve got some people in Cleveland and I have no doubt this is emanating from Dan Gilbert—I don’t know it for sure, but I have no doubt—this man wants LeBron James gone. He’s tired of being held hostage by him. He wants him up outta there.”
Without knowing exactly what's going on in the Cavs' locker room (which is my version of Stephen A. saying "I don’t know it for sure, but I have no doubt"), I don't think this is entirely crazy. Especially when you consider that Stephen A. unleashed his theory on the same day that a new report surfaced claiming there is "no communication" between LeBron and Cleveland's front office.
Though there's a list of things that have created this divide between player and owner, The Athletic's Jason Lloyd believes that the main source of acrimony was the team trading Kyrie Irving without giving an already skeptical LeBron a heads up this past offseason. The relationship between LeBron and the Cavs' top brass apparently got so fractured that the four-time MVP yelled/cursed at "at least two team executives" during January's poorly concealed team meeting.
These latest rumors swirling around LeBron and the Cavs are just the latest in a massive pile of gossip that will continue to grow until this summer, when LBJ is expected to test the free agency waters.