LeBron, Cavaliers’ futures uncertain after playoff exit

Published 1:25 am Tuesday, May 18, 2010

INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers’ season of seasons, the one supposed to end Cleveland’s tortured 46-year title drought, ended without a parade or King James’ coronation as a champion.

It’s over.

The pain endures, though. And it may only worsen.

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Superstar LeBron James hasn’t bolted as a free agent for New York or Chicago or Los Angeles or New Jersey or (fill in your favorite NBA city here) — at least not yet. And Cavs coach Mike Brown hasn’t been fired — at least not yet. General manager Danny Ferry still has his job, too.

That three-ring circus hasn’t opened.

Right after their title run was snuffed by a more focused Boston team on the Celtics’ famed parquet floor, and with two-time MVP James’ impending free agency looming on the horizon like an inescapable hurricane, the Cavaliers began piecing together what went wrong.

It hurt.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t believe it after it’s happened,” shellshocked owner Dan Gilbert said.

Reality hit hard on Friday as the organization and Cavaliers fans faced Day One of the Summer of LeBron, which wasn’t supposed to arrive until mid-June. But it’s here and it’s going to be stormy.

Showing the wear and tear of a late night after the Cavs lost Game 6, Gilbert said his emotions were too raw, the wounds too new to begin reshaping a franchise now dealing with an uncertain future tied directly to whether it can re-sign James, whose recruitment by other cities began with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying he may give him a “big sales pitch.”

Gilbert wasn’t amused.

“I would think Mayor Bloomberg has better things to do than that,” said Gilbert, who contends the Cavs remain the best fit for James. “Besides that, we have to ignore the noise. People in New York read that stuff more than people in Cleveland do. We are focused on building the best franchise, the best environment, the best place for a long-term situation for LeBron or any free agent that wants to come here.

“We will do everything in our power to attract great talent and keep great talent.”

Gilbert refuted a report on SI.com that he had already fired Brown, who despite having the game’s best player and a roster upgraded this season with the additions of All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison, failed to take his team as far as it went last season.

Gilbert said the team’s ownership group would embark on an organizational review — from top to bottom.

“We are going to take a long, deep, hard look at every key position in this entire franchise,” he said. “It’s not going to be a long period of time. Within a week to 10 days we’ll have most of our information and decision-making done. But we’re not going to react here emotionally the next morning after unexpectedly losing the series and make rash decisions.”