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Cavaliers owner Gilbert 'turning up pressure' for improvement


Dan Gilbert apparently isn't going to be satisfied with 19 wins every season. Nor is the Cavaliers owner seemingly real big on the idea of playing the NBA draft lottery every year that LeBron James isn't on the team.

That is why the Cavs will need to start getting things turned around soon -- or at least become something closer to competitive than they have been the past two years.

According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Gilbert is "turning up the pressure for the Cavs to show real improvement next season."

Gilbert is recovering from a stroke suffered in May 2019. He continues to receive treatment and rehab at his home in Franklin, Mich.

Gilbert, 58, reportedly had returned to work at Quicken Loans a few days a week -- with the assistance of a wheelchair, cane and support dog -- prior to the conronavirus outbreak. In February, he made his first public appearance since suffering the stroke, speaking at the Detroit Crain's Business Newsmaker of the Year luncheon.

"When you have a stroke, here's the problem with it: Everything is hard. Everything," Gilbert told Crain's. "Like you wake up, getting out of bed is hard, going to the bathroom is hard, sitting down eating at a table is hard. You name it. You don't get a break. You're like trapped in your own body."

But clearly, Gilbert has remain engaged with what's going on with his basketball team. Lately, things haven't been that great.

The Cavs were 19-46 when the NBA suspended the season and were among the eight bottom-feeders that didn't receive an invite to the league's return in Orlando.

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They've also had four coaches in less than two years -- from Tyronn Lue to Larry Drew to John Beilein to J.B. Bickerstaff. They finished 19-63 in 2018-19.

That's the bad news.

The good is they went about .500 in the 11 games under Bickerstaff (5-6). They are also tied with the Golden State Warriors for best odds to win the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery, scheduled for late August.

General manager Koby Altman also acquired veteran center Andre Drummond prior to the February trade deadline, is said to be very open to re-signing free agent center Tristan Thompson and has a natural scoring machine in Collin Sexton -- who just completed his second season and has yet to miss a game.

Drummond and power forward Kevin Love are two veterans who are basically shoe-ins to return. Thompson could be a third. Rookie guards Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. occasionally showed promise in the backcourt. Larry Nance Jr. will be back and can play all three frontcourt spots.

So while the Cavs could be considered an odd mix of younger guys and older players with playoff experience, they were showing signs of cohesiveness and determination when the season was suspended.

“I think our responsibility is to keep improving,” Bickerstaff told Wine and Gold United members in April. “You always look outward. You’re always doing your job to see what players you’re going to get in the draft, what free agents may be available.

"But as a coaching staff, our priority is developing the guys that we have here and who we can identify to take the biggest step to make us that team that we want to be. And that’s a playoff-contending team.”

The difference between the previous two seasons and now, it seems, is Gilbert will accept nothing less.