Kyrie Irving has made a request to the Cleveland Cavaliers organization that he would like to be traded.
By Zach Backiewicz, ’19
After a crazy summer of NBA basketball regarding the trading of star players such as Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Chris Paul, the sports world was sent into shock after Kyrie Irving requested to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving has surprised many people and has gained a lot of publicity for his recent decision even after appearing in three straight NBA Finals and playing alongside possibly the best player in the world, LeBron James. Even though the Cavaliers fell short to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals this past year, in 2016 Irving helped bring Cleveland their first championship by hitting a game-winning three pointer over Steph Curry in the final game of the series.
Irving has been with the Cavalier organization since he was first drafted as the first overall draft pick in 2011. In 2014, Irving signed a 5-year contract extension and expected to become Cleveland’s franchise player. However, a few weeks later LeBron James returned to his hometown from the Miami Heat and immediately became the focus of the Cavs. With James now on the team, it forced Kyrie to become a secondary star and play in the shadow of his teammate.
Irving has said that he wants to play in a situation where he can play a more prominent role and that he no longer would like to play alongside LeBron James. According to ESPN, when James is on the floor, Irving averaged 18.2 shots and 23.2 points per 36 minutes last season. With James off the floor, he averaged 27.2 shots and 35.2 points per 36.
As of now preferred destinations for the four time NBA All-Star include the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. According to league sources, Timberwolves teammates Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns have been diligently working on trying to recruit Irving to Minnesota and have made it clear to management that they want to acquire the star point guard.
Currently, the Cavaliers organization is filled with uncertainty as owner Dan Gilbert couldn’t come to terms with previous general manager David Griffin on a new contract extension. However, they recently promoted assistant general manager, Koby Altman, as the new general manager. LeBron James will be a free agent next summer and there have already been talks about him leaving Cleveland for the second time. Kevin Love has also been involved in numerous rumors as the Cavaliers are trying to upgrade their roster so they could have a chance to compete for a championship, especially against the Golden State Warriors.
While the sports world was reacting to the recent news, Irving was on his personal Nike Basketball tour in Asia. He clearly seemed to be enjoying himself, as he posted numerous pictures on his Instagram of him traveling the country and promoting his passion for basketball. Irving has also been a focus on social media as it has been pointed out that he unfollowed James on Instagram.
After hearing about of Irving’s request, sources have said that James was disappointed and blindsided. After SLAM Magazine tweeted how James was reportedly eager for Cleveland to trade Kyrie, James immediately responded how the tweet was not accurate and that people should get another source.
Other NBA players and coaches have responded to Irving’s request. Former Detroit Pistons player Chauncey Billups, who has been prominent in the Cavs offseason after he denied to become the new general manager, reacted to the situation saying how the request didn’t surprise him but that’s it’s unfortunate because lost Irving’s success has been based on him playing with James. “Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots,” Billups told the Denver station. “That’s the only sense I can make of it, and to me, that doesn’t make sense.”
After the trade request, the Cavaliers signed former MVP and New York Knick point guard, Derrick Rose, to a 1-year deal worth 2.1 million. The Cavaliers also signed Jose Calderón and Cedi Osman as well.
If Irving ends up leaving Cleveland it would leave the Cavaliers vulnerable to losing their top spot in the Eastern Conference to teams such as the Boston Celtics. And if the Cavaliers fail to make it to the Finals and win a championship, it would most likely lead to James leaving for a better chance of winning.
For now, the league will wait patiently to see where Irving will end up playing next season but it is most likely that he will leave the Cavaliers. The tension of the situation will continue to grow and when Irving’s situation finally comes to an end, it could drastically change the balance of power in the NBA.