Cavs meet with LeBron to discuss recent postgame rant
Tom Withers | The Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James has smoothed things over with his teammates and bosses — for now.
In the aftermath of calling Cleveland’s roster “top heavy” and questioning the organization’s commitment to winning a second championship following Monday’s loss in New Orleans, James met with the Cavaliers as a team and spoke one on one Wednesday with general manager David Griffin to discuss his assertions.
“I think we both needed it,” said Griffin, who spoke to reporters shortly before the Cavs hosted the Sacramento Kings. “I’m happy it happened.”
Griffin was not pleased James went public with his feelings and felt he demeaned some players.
“It wouldn’t have been my preferred method,” Griffin said. “It certainly wasn’t appropriate from a teammate perspective. But, it is what it is.”
Cleveland’s problems worsened Wednesday night as the Cavs blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 116-112 in overtime to the Sacramento Kings, one of the worst teams in the Western Conference Cleveland has dropped six of eight.
The Cavs missed 17 free throws and squandered a five-point lead in the final 2:30 of OT.
“We gotta get better, that’s all,” said James, who quickly dressed and left after just a few questions. “We had our opportunities. It don’t matter who we go against, if they’re sub-.500 or plus-.500, we know we’re going to get everybody’s best, so we just gotta be better.”
James triggered a seismic reaction both inside and outside Cleveland’s organization with the scathing comments he made in New Orleans to a small group of traveling beat writers after the Cavs lost to the Pelicans, who were missing All-Star Anthony Davis.
Griffin said he was most bothered by James’ claim that the Cavs seemed to be satisfied with one title and weren’t doing all they could to repeat as champions.
“The comment about the organization being complacent I think is really misguided,” Griffin said. “Organizationally there is absolutely no lack of clarity on what our set goal is. We are here to win championships and there is no other solution, there is no other outcome that is acceptable and there never has been.”
Griffin said he’s continuing to try and improve Cleveland’s roster, adding that James’ issues will not speed up any timeline.
Griffin also appreciates that James wants to win and is frustrated by the team’s recent slide. Despite their slump, the Cavs entered Wednesday’s game at 30-13 and leading the Eastern Conference by three games.
“We’re all frustrated,” Griffin said. “Everyone is frustrated and I can appreciate the fact that he feels that way. The thing you have to love about him and everybody on this team is they’re really passionate about what they do and everyone is frustrated. So, I get the sentiment.”
Griffin would not say if James showed remorse for his rant.
Earlier, coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavs met as a group and discussed James’ comments.
“For me, you always want to try to improve the team whether you’re great or not,” Lue said. “Golden State won 73 games last year and they added Kevin Durant. You always want to get better and when you see teams getting better as a competitor you want to get better. But we have enough on this team to win a championship. We can get better. I know Griff is going to make us better and he’s going to do the best he can.
“For me, LeBron James, the best player in the world, took a team that was worse to the NBA Finals two years ago. We have a good team. We just have to start playing better as a unit. No excuses.”
This isn’t the first time the Cavs have tackled James’ behavior. Last year, he made several eyebrow-raising comments on Twitter that both Lue and Griffin addressed with the three-time champion.
Griffin has been in the market for a backup point guard, but believes the Cavs can defend their title with their current roster.
“I think we have enough (to win) if everyone plays significantly better, but we have a very fine margin for error right now,” he said. “I would like to have a greater margin for error. I would like to be more protected against injury in different positions. But if we were 100 percent healthy going into any series I feel pretty good about our situation. We just have a very small margin for error.”
Griffin would not comment on a report that the New York Knicks reached out to the Cavs about a possible trade for Carmelo Anthony.