By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
VIDEO: Timeout with Kyrie Irving
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — It’s been less than four years since LeBron James left Cleveland for warmer climes. And it’s already time for Cavs fans to start worrying about losing another No. 1 pick.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst added fire to Cleveland’s collective anxiety through a Q & A with Cavs the Blog, in which he said that Kyrie Irving has always wanted out of Cleveland and that the Cavs should trade the point guard if he doesn’t agree to a five-year extension this summer…
The truth is [Kyrie’s] camp has been putting out there for years – years – that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. That they don’t want him in Cleveland. He doesn’t like Mike Brown. He didn’t like Chris Grant. He doesn’t like Dion Waiters. He’s already gotten a General Manager fired. He might get Mike Brown fired. This is the last time – once he signs he loses all of his leverage – so this is the last time he gets to enact leverage. I know he’s said all the right things so, fine, on July 1, when they offer a max contract – which they will – and I don’t even know if he’s a max player, but you have to sign him – sign a five year, no out. That’s what a max contract is. A max contract is five years, no out. If you want out or you want three years, that’s not a max contract. You want three years? Okay, we’ll give you $12 million a year. We’re not giving you the full thing.
Via rumors like this and the Cavs’ disappointing season, Irving’s reputation has taken quite a hit over the last year. And after he got wind of Windhorst’s chatter, the All-Star took to twitter in an attempt to set the record straight…
This will be a big summer for the Cavs. Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes are free agents, while Irving and Tristan Thompson are up for extensions.
Whether Irving is a max player is a question that the Cavs will have to answer. As brilliant as he can look as he’s knifing through defenses, his shooting and scoring efficiency has regressed since his rookie season and his defense has always been poor. Though the Cavs have added talent over the last two years, they’re just 62-114 (.352) in games he’s played.
With Jarrett Jack and Matthew Dellavedova running the point with Irving out for eight games recently, the Cavs’ offense had one of its best stretches of the season, keeping them in the playoff picture.
But Friday’s loss in Atlanta likely knocked them out. Irving will become just the second No. 1 pick since Kwame Brown (drafted in 2001) to miss the playoffs in his first three seasons.
The other was John Wall, who is going to the playoffs in season No. 4. If the Cavs invest in Irving (and he invests in them), they need to hope that he can make a similar jump.