Dan Gilbert and LeBron James at Quicken Loans Arena on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Make no mistake about it: the Cleveland Cavaliers are LeBron James’ team. Slowly, it’s looking like LeBron wants it to be his organization too.

No, we aren’t saying LeBron is trying to buy the Cavs, but instead, the superstar and Cleveland’s leadership are battling over how the team spends its payroll, according to ESPN.

The same story reports James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert have different opinions about how the team spends its money. This story, of course, comes on the heels of the Cavs losing six of eight games, including a 116-112 overtime loss at home to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.


This debate over Cleveland’s spending between James and Gilbert isn’t new either. According to ESPN, when LeBron was thinking about returning to Ohio in 2014, he wanted to see what Gilbert’s spending limits were. LeBron wanted Gilbert to spend unconditionally on the best talent available and when Gilbert agreed, LeBron returned home.

The Cavaliers owner has complied with LeBron’s request. During the 2014-2015 season, Gilbert paid $82 million in salaries, which resulted in an extra $7 million in luxury tax. Last year, Gilbert spent $107 million on salaries, resulting in a stunning $54 million paid in luxury tax.

Over the last three years, the Cavs have spent more money than any other NBA team, so the debate between LeBron and Gilbert is a little odd.

This season, Cleveland is committed to $127.6 million in salaries, which will add on $27 million in luxury taxes. Those numbers are extremely high, but LeBron thinks the Cavaliers have actually slowly stopped spending as much as they used to.

On Monday night, LeBron made that clear to reporters in a subtle jab of a quote:

“I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization.”

Shortly after came the tweets:

LeBron is allowed to speak his mind, but the comments (unsurprisingly) weren’t taken lightly by Gilbert. Over the last month, LeBron has requested the team acquire a ball handler and they may have in the form of Kyle Korver, but it isn’t clear if Korver alone will be enough for to satisfy LeBron.

“We can absolutely increase payroll if it’s the right piece at the right time. I’ve never once been given a mandate of any kind, relative to money,” General Manager David Griffin said. “We’re not going to do something where we go ask for more money unless we believe it makes us appreciably better. … As we have all along, ownership will do what needs to be done.”

While LeBron and Gilbert are at odds over how the team will continue to spend if at all, head coach Tyronn Lue will have to work on getting LeBron and the rest of the team to play better on the court.

Cleveland, at 30-14, is still 1st in the East, three games ahead of 28-18 Toronto. The Cavs have an easy opportunity to take a step in the right direction on Friday when they host the 9-36 Brooklyn Nets.


About David Lauterbach

David is a writer for The Comeback. He enjoyed two Men's Basketball Final Four trips for Syracuse before graduating in 2016. If The Office or Game of Thrones is on TV, David will be watching.