Was Dan Gilbert's plane involved in LeBron James' free agency?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

According to one report, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was on a plane owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. According to another, he wasn't.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said via Twitter that he wasn't on a company plane that landed in South Florida, and the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd reports that neither were general manager David Griffin or adviser Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Four sources confirmed to Lloyd that Ilgauskas, a former teammate and friend of Miami Heat free agent LeBron James, was not on a flight on Sunday.

The big question: Why do we care about this plane?

The Ilgauskas rumor could be important, as James' former teammate could be the first to patch things up between James and his current employer, Gilbert, who posted a written tirade when James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010. And that Gilbert has since hid the public tracking of his plane only adds fuel to the fire.

Why is this plane potentially important?

The Cavs could be denying any of these reports simply to get an upper-hand on James' free agency. James has been silent through this process and has only met with suitors through his agent, Rich Paul.

Gilbert's plane left from his home in Detroit bound for Florida but was re-routed. It was confirmed to be owned by Gilbert's Rock Construction Co., and Cleveland radio host Anthony Lima of 92.3 The Fan reported that Ilgauskas was indeed on board the flight.

The flight history indicates this same plane flew between Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, Indianapolis and New Jersey on the same days the Cavs reportedly met with free agent Gordon Hayward and extension signee Kyrie Irving. That might indicate this plane isn't just for Gilbert's ventures outside the Cavs.


Why might this all be silly over-analysis?

The plane owned by Gilbert very well may have had nothing to do with the Cavaliers' push to bring James back to his native Ohio. Gilbert is involved in 70 companies, a number of which have business in Florida, Lloyd reports. ESPN Radio's Jorge Sedano added that one of Gilbert's companies has a mall project going on in Miami.

Before the flight information was pulled from public consumption, there was only a record of the plane landing at Dulles Airport, making it less likely a Cavs official had a brief meeting with anyone in Miami without returning home.

At this point, it's a he-said, he-said type of situation, and Gilbert's plane very well could be used for two very different reasons -- perhaps it was used for Cleveland to meet with Hayward and Irving, but flew to Florida for something unrelated to the NBA free agency period.

Is this plane important?

I give these rumors a 0 out of 10 if I know the answer to this. What is clear? James certainly won't need the Cavs to tell him via a private meeting that they have interest in bringing him back. But it probably wouldn't hurt.

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