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Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has no problem paying his players. His GM, on the other hand …

Dan Gilbert is trying to be thrifty in a suddenly big-spending NBA. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
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The Cleveland Cavaliers spent $121 million on player salaries last season plus another $45 million on luxury taxes for exceeding the salary cap. That first number won’t change drastically in 2017-18, while the second is going to skyrocket: As noted by SB Nation’s Tom Ziller, Cleveland is almost certainly going to trigger the NBA’s repeater tax next season and in 2018-19 — in this case, a 44 percent penalty — because it will have exceeded the salary cap in three out of four seasons.

So Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is looking for ways to save pennies here and there, but the area in which he seems to be cutting corners — the team’s personnel department — is kind of important in building and maintaining a championship-caliber roster.

According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Marc J. Spears, Gilbert tried to hire Chauncey Billups on the cheap this summer, at first offering the former NBA player $1.5 million per year to be his new president of basketball operations and then $2 million when Billups balked at the first number. Billups, whom the ESPN scribes say is “considered around the league as a future front-office star,” turned down Gilbert, perhaps because the starting point for NBA president salaries usually is around $4 million annually.

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David Griffin, the team’s former personnel chief, made less than $2 million per year, according to Haynes and Spears. That ranks near the bottom of the NBA in terms of personnel-executive salaries and was one reason Griffin and the team parted ways.

Forbes estimates that the Cavaliers were one of only a “handful” of NBA teams to lose money during the 2015-16 season, when they won the NBA title, and that their $40 million operating loss was four times greater than any other franchise (it also was the fifth biggest in the NBA since Forbes began estimating such things in 1997-98). There’s the player payroll, which we’ve already established as high, plus the fact that Tyronn Lue was given a five-year, $35 million contract after helping lead the Cavaliers to the championship, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid coaches. Gilbert also had to pay former coaches Mike Brown and David Blatt roughly $8 million in buyout money, Forbes says.

So when you look at it that way, a businessman like Gilbert probably isn’t all too thrilled that he’s one of just a few NBA owners not to profit from his team. On the other hand, Forbes estimates Gilbert’s net worth at $5.9 billion, which makes him one of the richest sports-team owners in the world.

He can probably spare a million or two for a top-flight general manager, whose expertise likely will be needed to both keep LeBron James happy in Cleveland after next season, when he can opt out of his current contract, and to construct a roster that can challenge all the superteams in the West.