WHAT’S the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning? Correct, you check your phone. So when I woke Saturday morning and did exactly that to receive news that Kyrie Irving wanted a trade, it’s fair to say my weekend was off to a shitty start. Now myself and Cavs fans across the globe face the realistic possibility that Irving will be playing elsewhere next season. Let’s be honest though we shouldn’t be surprised.
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EVER looked at a risky text/email/Tweet and paused before hitting send, wondering if more bad than good will come from posting it? One such incident of a regretful post comes from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who, back when LeBron left the franchise for Miami in 2010, published a letter to the fans of the organisation. The infamous letter trashed LeBron and his ‘cowardly betrayal’ which made the King’s return to the organisation in the summer of 2014 notably awkward.
Image from sportingnews.com
OF course, all that was swept under the rug and seemingly put to bed when James delivered on his promise to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland. There were still rumblings of Gilbert’s and James’ icy relationship, but winning solves everything right? However, as this tumultuous offseason has shown, Gilbert’s decisions and attitude could very much lead to the 2nd departure of King James. Earlier in the offseason Cleveland’s decision to part ways with now former GM David Griffin was a somewhat puzzling one and one that was not well received by many. Griffin helped orchestrate a roster that delivered a title to ‘The Land’ and James was quick to point out which side of the fence he sat on regarding Griffin’s departure.
OF course, the rumour mill surrounding LeBron’s exit went into overdrive once again when Chauncey Billups turned down the open GM position with a money disparity a contributing factor. Was Dan Gilbert’s reluctance to open his wallet the issue? Or, if you believe everything you read on Twitter, was it because LeBron told Billups that there was no point joining the team as he plans to leave at his next possible chance?
SO how does all of this impact Kyrie Irving’s trade you ask? Well if the best player in the world over the past decade decides to turn his back on this organisation (based in his hometown nonetheless) twice because of the ownership, why would you want to stay and play for such a team? Irving’s reasons behind a trade request apparently stem from his desire to play as a team’s focal point on offense, partially due to LeBron’s ball dominant style. Sure, a 25-year-old, four time All-Star with a championship on his resume already may want more touches, but playing alongside the best player in the world is something that everyone in the league aspires to do. It took some time for Kyrie and LeBron to learn how to co-exist, but they showed in the 2016 Finals that they can do it and have it translate to a championship.
I have NO DOUBT that LeBron’s impending departure and the Cavs front office hysteria are the real reasons that Kyrie wants out of Cleveland. If he really wanted to be the main focal point of the offense, he could quite patiently wait for James to leave/retire and be handed the keys to the franchise and go on his on scoring binges. Just a few days before this trade request surfaced Irving commented on the Cavs offseason, stating that the moves they had made in the summer have left them in a “very peculiar place”. It’s quite possible that the organisation finds a way to keep both Irving and James happy and keep them in a Cavaliers uniform, but I can’t think of a period longer than a few weeks over the past two/three years where there weren’t rumours of displeasure, trades and questions over the Cavs ability to keep their stars happy. All this speculation and rumours around displeasure and trades certainly take their toll on the players, make no mistake and you can’t blame Kyrie for wanting to get away from all these negative headlines. A team that has been to three straight NBA Finals should not be a source of such displeasure.
BY no means is Kyrie’s departure a formality, with plenty of stars requesting a trade in the past to only stay put (see: Kobe Bryant summer of ’07). If Irving does find his way onto another team this offseason though and James follows his lead, bouncing in free agency next year it would leave the organisation gutted. Not to mention the effect it would have on fans! The first time around much of LeBron’s decision and deflection from the city of Cleveland can be pinned on him. This time around the blame sits squarely on Gilbert’s shoulders. I just pray another one of my weekends isn’t ruined by the Cavaliers incompetence.
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