Kyrie Irving played just 13 games at Duke before being drafted first by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 draft. He was a flash in the pan, scoring in high amounts on a bad team, and the future looked bright for the young point guard.
Irving joined the Cavaliers almost right after LeBron James broke their hearts, so all of Cleveland stood behind their budding superstar. In just his second season, Irving made the All-Star team, and in the summer of 2013, the Cavaliers loaded up on talent for a playoff run.
This season has been a disaster. They currently sit at 16-30, and even after trading for Luol Deng, the Cavs are likely to miss the playoffs. They whiffed on the draft by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall, and now things look dark in Quicken Loans Arena. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, their superstar is now reportedly trying to get out of this mess.
After the Cavs got blasted by the Knicks on Thursday night, Irving talked to reporters about the rumors of his desired departure.
“There’s been so much so-called reports coming out that I don’t want to be here. That’s what you guys get paid to do, but that’s just so much negative attention,” Irving said following the Cavs’ 117-86 loss to the Knicks. “I know we’re struggling, but it’s not about me. It’s about our team. It’s about us fighting every day for each other and me fighting for my teammates.
“Yes, I’m in Cleveland. I enjoy myself. I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about me and it’s not about this controversy, ‘Do I privately want out when my contract is up?’ I’m still in my rookie contract and I’m happy to be here. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m not saying anything to tell the future, but I’m pretty sure the relationship I have with Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court. I enjoy being here.”
This sounds a lot like a political answer. He didn’t give any bold statements or denying of the reports, so it starts to raise some questions about his future in Cleveland. He is a restricted free agent this season, so if he tries to sign somewhere else, the Cavaliers will match it. He could sign a qualifying offer, but he risks getting injured and missing out on a max deal. Irving knows all this, and would still not commit to the Cavaliers beyond this season:
When told he can sign a lucrative contract this summer, Irving said, “I’m aware of that,” but stopped short of saying he’d sign here long term.
“It’s still too early to say. I’m still trying to get through this season,” he said. “Everybody is trying to antagonize this team and put it on me. I’m here for my teammates, I’m here for Coach Brown and the coaching staff and I’m going to play my heart out every single night for the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
We will see how this plays out, but things don’t look good for the Cavaliers.