Los Angeles — Cleveland Cavaliers owner Daniel Gilbert thinks he has found the answer to his franchise’s current malaise, and it may give fans a fever.
Bieber fever, that is.
In town for NBA All Star weekend, Gilbert had a chance to watch teen heartthrob, Grammy nominee, and actor Justin Bieber play in the annual Celebrity All Star Game. And he was quite impressed.
“When you look at what he brings to the table,” said Gilbert, “you have to like what you see.”
Gilbert cited Bieber’s solid line from last night’s box score, in which Bieber tallied eight points, four assists, and two rebounds running the point for the Western Conference squad. While he ultimately came up short in a potential game-tying three point attempt, Bieber’s sound long range stroke, smooth ball handling, and luscious locks were more than enough to win over the founder of real estate giant Quicken Loans. Gilbert noted that in successfully dribbling the ball between his legs, finding open shooters with bounce passes, and managing to not have an inbound pass intercepted, Bieber did things that no guard on the Cavs current roster is capable of.
Since the departure of longtime franchise linchpin LeBron James, Gilbert has been desperately searching for the team’s next young superstar. With guard Daniel Gibson and forward JJ Hickson foundering in limited roles as “the one”, Gilbert has been forced to look outside the current roster. This has presented a perplexing dilemma, however, as young stars are few in far between, and are desperately guarded by their current teams. The increasing reluctance of free agents to play in frigid climates such as Cleveland made Gilbert’s quest seem nearly quixotic.
Yet in Bieber, the Cavaliers may have found someone who will not only improve their current talent level, but also revive interest in the team. Season ticket holders, who were forced to renew their seats prior to James’ free agency decision, may now be prodded into renewing their seats by massive pressure from their daughters and wives. Indeed, rumors of the possible deal have already caused Forbes magazine to increase its valuation of the Cavaliers by $100 million.
The Cavs are expected to offer Bieber, 16, the entirety of their mid-level exception, which would equate to roughly $5.8 million this year, although cap experts note that the singer is not yet legally able to sign a contract.
Bieber’s parents were unavailable for comment.