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Basketball as a business: Dan Gilbert and his Kyrie Irving dilemma

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We've heard the player's side of the story. Teams still hold the contract rights to players on the team.

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Since Dan Gilbert's Cleveland Cavaliers owns Kyrie Irving's basketball contract, Gilbert is in control of how to maximize its value. This is totally different than dealing with a player who is a free agent and not obligated to any team.

Which team will give Gilbert the best deal? Gilbert and Riley have a history of working together back in 2010, and may swing a big trade again, but without the dramatics this time around.

A trade package including Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow might make sense, since Winslow would be a backup at small forward while James rests. Justise recently said,

Guys like [Andre] Iguodala who can do everything on the court, or LeBron, who is everything. Those type of guys are who I want to be.

Sounds like Winslow would enjoy learning from LeBron, rather than feeling upstaged by him, as Irving obviously does. Something to consider in a trade which would create a more harmonious locker room in Cleveland.

Before LeBron came home to Ohio, the Cavaliers were a lottery team with Irving. Gilbert might face the same prospect if LeBron leaves again. Lottery picks didn’t help the Cavaliers then.

Mike Miller and Jones went to Cleveland along with LBJ. With both now gone, their absence might be felt by LeBron, as his last ties to Miami on the team are cut. Spending seven years together, the locker room won't be the same for LeBron after the departure of his favorite teammate, James Jones. Strange how Kyrie's bombshell came so soon after Jones’ announcement of his leaving Cleveland (and their subsequent interest in free agent Derrick Rose).

Whatever happens in Cleveland, Gilbert holds the most of the chips with the players who are under contract with his team. The final outcome of this uncomfortable situation ultimately rests with the owners and the business side of basketball.