Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert told head coach Tyronn Lue to experiment in the NBA this season.
In essence, he gave him permission to lose knowing full well the Cavaliers were going to make the playoffs in a mediocre Eastern Conference.
"Dan Gilbert told me ... you've gotta try new things," Lue said in an interview with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
"Like, in business you gotta try new things. If it works, you're a genius, if not, you change and do something else. I just think you gotta try things and kinda see how your team reacts to it."
What Gilbert gave Lue a chance to do was change his lineups and find out what worked. There is a reason the Cavaliers went from starting Tristan Thompson for half the season to barely playing him after the All-Star break.
Lue intentionally played Cedi Osman extended minutes and started Rodney Hood for a good portion of time after he was acquired from the Jazz. He did it because he was trying to find out what worked alongside LeBron James. Gilbert told him not to let losing worry him.
"Philosophically, sometimes I think we should NOT be afraid to fail as much as we seem to be," Gilbert told Lue in a text message seen by the Plain-Dealer.
As a result the Cavaliers had 18 different players start games this season. Of all of the playoff teams in the NBA this year, only the Celtics started at least 15 different players. The Timberwolves only started nine.
The 2017-18 season has been about a lot of trial and error for Lue and the Cavaliers, and coming off a sweep over the team with the second best record in the NBA in the Raptors, Cleveland have looked to have found what works.
A lot of that had to do with Lue, but just as much had to do with Gilbert. But while James may have yelled at Lue in the middle of the season, the Cavaliers' head coach still has his team's respect even while going through so much losing.
"He's put his players in a good position to succeed," Jeff Green said.
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