Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Plausible deniability

You've got to hand it to Dan Gilbert. The Cavaliers' owner made it sound so believable the other day when he vehemently denied rumors that LeBron James was involved in the process of selecting the club's new head coach.

“The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way, shape or form with firing our head coach, involved in the transition to general manager Chris Grant and will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally, 100 percent and patently false,” he said. “It’s unfair to him. It’s unfair to the franchise.

“He is a basketball player and a great one and his interests are aligned with our interests, but this concept that this franchise has been handed to a player who is running it and making the decisions is just completely and totally false. He’ll tell you that and Chris will tell you that and I’ll tell you that. The truth is the truth.”

The truth is the truth . . . except when it's not the truth. It flirts with the truth, but it's not the truth.

How can Gilbert expect at least a few of us skeptics to believe LeBron is not involved in selecting the new coach? C'mon. LeBron is the Cavaliers. Without him, the club is just like most other mediocre teams in the NBA. Goodbye LeBron, hello ordinary basketball in Cleveland. Without him, the worth of Gilbert's franchise plunges.

Of course LeBron is involved. Perhaps in an oblique way, but he's involved nevertheless. Perhaps it's through back channels, through intermediaries. But you can bet he knows everything Gilbert is thinking. That's the way it has to be if the owner has any chance of keeping his prized possession.

Whoever gets the coaching job will know well ahead of time whether LeBron remains or bolts. And there's only one way that can eventuate.

So despite all the strong denials by Gilbert, it's hard to swallow the notion that LeBron is on the outside looking in. His disavowing words fall under the category of plausible deniability.

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