August 31, 2017

CLEVELAND (AP) Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vowed Thursday to ''never'' move his NBA team from Cleveland.

Earlier this week, when Gilbert scrapped plans for a $140 million renovation to Quicken Loans Arena that could now be back on, his move led to speculation the owner might leave the city when his lease expires in 2027.

''CLE, Let's put any silly rumors to rest: I will never move the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Cleveland,'' Gilbert wrote on Twitter . ''Period. And that's unconditional.''

As part of the project, the team would extend its lease to 2034. The Cavs were going to split the cost of the arena's makeover with public financing, but a local coalition opposed to using tax dollars for the remodeling was able to force a city referendum vote and Gilbert pulled out.

However, on Thursday, Greater Cleveland Congregations withdrew petitions challenging the arena deal.

The Cavaliers are still hoping to host a future All-Star game if an agreement can be reached on the project.

''We are very encouraged by this new development related to the private-public partnership plan to transform The Q for the long term,'' team CEO Len Komoroski said in a statement. ''We are reviewing the impact of this change and discussing it further with the county, the city and others.''

While Gilbert insists he won't move the team, there's always the possibility he could sell.

Gilbert, who has owned the franchise since 2005 and guided it to a championship in 2016, has had a turbulent summer. The Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, general manager David Griffin left after leading the team to three straight conference titles and star guard Kyrie Irving demanded a trade. Cleveland completed the trade, which had hit a snag, on Wednesday night.

If all that wasn't enough, the Cavs enter a season with LeBron James' future with the club in doubt. He can opt out of his contract next summer and become a free agent. If he stays with Cleveland, Gilbert will have to give him a contract in excess of $200 million.

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