As much as he disliked the environment tailored to LeBron’s ball-halting, body-stagnating style — which Irving was encouraged by Tyronn Lue to clone in order to exploit his fabulous finishing touch, and make the Cavs twice as dangerous — he resisted crabbing about it, and waited wearily for the least unfavorable time to ask out. Did Kyrie resent LeBron having the Cavaliers’ comprehensive catering service on demand 24-7? Yes. That’s what I was told.
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At the same time, Kyrie did not mind being one of LeBron’s caterers. It was the near-exclusivity that disturbed him, being unable to cater correctly to the other three players on the floor because LeBron handled at least half the time, and Kyrie was expected to penetrate and kick out to James many other times.
Chris Forsberg: Celtics guard Kyrie Irving on First Take this morning and pressed hard on decision to leave Cleveland. Irving repeatedly downplayed notion that this was about his relationship with LeBron James, stressed desire to “evolve” in new situation.
Should he have talked to LeBron? Well, maybe during the season or the playoffs to air his grievances, sure. But that wasn’t the question. Kyrie was even savvy enough to dodge questions about the Cavs front office and coaching staff. “I know exactly what I want, and I want to be happy.” And at one point, he said, “I didn’t hear anything you say that was reality based.”
“We all kind of knew certain things about this team that was tough,” Shumpert said of the Cavaliers. “Like, it’s tough.” “But I’m saying this isn’t just a Kyrie-LeBron thing,” Shumpert added. “That’s what I’m saying. The media turned it into that for y’all. And that’s what I said about the internet. It’s the story. That’s the clicks. ‘LeBron and Kyrie hate each other, ahhhhh.’ No. It’s two dudes that need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin needs the ball. Swish can’t shoot unless he has the ball. Kyle Korver can’t shoot unless he has the ball. …. Somebody’s gotta get the short end. And a lot of times fans can’t all the way understand that. They think it’s 2k. ‘Bron can score 40, Ky can score 40, Iman should have 20, J.R. should have 30, this person should have this — it’s like, dog, it don’t work like that.”
“(People say) it’s LeBron and Kyrie hate each other,” Shumpert said. “No, it’s two dudes that need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin (Love) needs the ball. Swish (J.R. Smith) can’t shoot unless he has the ball. Kyle Korver can’t shoot unless he has the ball.” Shumpert, who is a friend to Irving, said the two still talk. He said “it could be awkward for a little bit” between James, Irving, and Love (there has been no mention of any tension between Irving and Love in media reports), but “it ain’t gonna last.”
Draymond Green has heard the criticism lobbed in Kyrie Irving’s direction. He’s heard how Irving was selfish for wanting to leave the side of LeBron James, how he was foolish for wanting to prove he could strike out on his own and do his own thing. Green, though, took Irving’s trade request, which led to him being dealt from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics, in a far different vein than most: His level of respect for the all-star point guard rose.
“Most people would probably say, ‘LeBron is the greatest player in the world,’ ” Green, who faced Irving in the past three NBA Finals, said. “I don’t say this in disrespect to LeBron … but speaking of Kyrie, to say, ‘I don’t want to play with him no more. I want to do my own thing.’ You have to deliver with that. He’s basically saying, ‘I’m ready to deliver.’ That’s big. That says a lot.”
As for Irving telling reporters during his introductory press conference in Boston that he hadn’t spoken to LeBron James since reports that he wanted out of Cleveland first surfaced? Shumpert, as has been the team line for weeks, thinks there’s nothing to that. “There’s no hard feelings,” he said. “And I’m sure Ky at some point is going to talk to everybody, the same way he talked to me. Ky’s a regular dude. He’s going to compete and he knows we’re going to be out looking for him when we play Boston. It’s all fine.”
Chris Forsberg: Kyrie Irving says he hasn’t spoken with LeBron James since the trade but calls playing with him “awesome” and thanks him for time together.
Tom Westerholm: Kyrie says he wouldn’t call it “issues” in Cleveland. Says it was an unbelievable ride, but says he’s excited to be a part of Boston.
LeBron James: That’s the only way to be to the kid! Special talent/guy! Nothing but respect and what a ride it was our 3 years together Young Gode #Filayy
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
Griffin said he thought Irving would end up getting traded, but would not speculate on where the Cavs All-Star point guard might go. He said both sides would be better if Irving were traded. “This is a guy whose list included really good coaching situations — Brad Stevens and [Gregg] Popovich. This is a guy who recruited LeBron [James], [Gordon] Hayward and a host of other free agents, and all of a sudden LeBron came back, so he was sold a totally different situation than he’s actually in, and he worked very well in, he won a championship in.”
David Griffin: “I see this as him looking for a fit for himself, to take the next step in his career. I think this is a guy who wants to know how good he can be. LeBron casts a very large shadow over an organization. And most of it is really, really positive. You know you are expected to win a championship by way of example. But what that doesn’t always allow is for a player like Kyrie to test his boundaries and see how good he can really be, and can I really be the front man of a team like that.”
The Kyrie Irving trade request saga is bordering on soap opera levels of absurdity. And now Steph Curry has thrust himself into this little drama brewing in Cleveland, where Irving has requested a trade. Curry and Irving attended Harrison Barnes’ wedding over the weekend, and the two appeared to be having a great time on the dance floor. You may even recognize Curry’s dance moves…
Scottie Pippen: “I am a very strong supporter of what he’s doing because I’ve watched what has happened to him in his career and how things went for him in Cleveland, and I think he’s at a superstar level now that he can control his own destiny. A lot of players in our game have that opportunity and they don’t take advantage of it.”
Scottie Pippen: “I think it’s the perfect timing, Cleveland didn’t win a championship, they were right there, but there’s been a lot of things going on within that organization. LeBron doesn’t give those guys the security that they need, that the superstar is gonna be there and he’s gonna support us and I see Kyrie looking at the opportunity to run before LeBron runs, because there’s a lot of chatter out there that LeBron’s coming to play with the Lakers.”
We got Drew Gooden at LAX, who played with LeBron from ’04 – ’08 and asked him if there’s any way these two NBA titans can put the bad blood behind them and get back to losing to Golden State. According to Drew there is, and involves some fists, ’cause he told our guy the two men need to just kick the crap out of each other, get all the bad vibes out, and then start over.
Altman said the James-Irving feud was “overblown” by the media. Altman mentioned that he signed Rose on his first official day on the job and that the media should be talking more about the franchise’s offseason additions. Altman also told reporters that the Cavaliers will keep things “in-house” on Irving. “A lot of it has been overblown,” Altman said. “I think the people who are in this building every day haven’t seen any of that animosity. This is, along with [forward] Kevin Love, this is a group that got us to three straight Finals and won an NBA championship together. They play great together on the floor, and a lot of that I do think is overblown. We haven’t seen a lot of that ‘animosity’ that’s been out there in the media.”
Chris Bosh has some advice for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James — “Work it out.” Of course, Bosh knows firsthand what it takes to have a successful NBA relationship with James — the two won ‘ships together with the Miami Heat. Plus, they’re still good friends.
Kristian Winfield: Koby Altman on whether Kyrie and LeBron can coexist: “I think a lot of it has been overblown.” Says there’s no animosity between the two.
The drama between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving appears headed to an ugly breakup, and in this age of social media, a breakup isn’t official until the “unfollow” button is clicked. On Tuesday, NBA fans took notice to the fact that Kyrie Irving isn’t following LeBron James on Instagram. While it’s impossible to tell if Irving unfollowed LeBron without an earlier screenshot, it’s definitely suspect as Irving follows his other Cavaliers teammates.
While he said he didn’t speak with LeBron James until after he removed his name from consideration, Billups said he wasn’t bothered about the idea of James leaving Cleveland and called rebuilding a “beautiful” thing. However, he said their lack of assets was a more concerning dilemma. But the most interesting point of the interview was when Billups spoke about Irving. When asked if he was surprised about the recent rumors, he then took a deep breath and said no. “As they were doing their due dilligence on me, I was doing the same thing. I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But that’s unfortunate, man. Because he’s a special talent and in my opinion, so much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been a beneficary of having LeBron James, man.”
LeBron James is reportedly “eager” for Cleveland to trade Kyrie Irving http://slam.ly/lebron-kyrie-eager … LeBron James: #NotFacts people! 🗣Booooo!!! Get another source.
LBJ is extremely unhappy with Kyrie’s trade request. “LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass.” 👀 LeBron James: #NotFacts people! 🗣Boooo!! Get another source. 🤦🏾♂️. #EnjoyingMySummer #YouDoTheSame 😁😁😁
Brian Windhorst: I think Kyrie is making his point very clearly that he doesn’t want to be in the room with LeBron anymore.
Citing sources, Smith claimed that James “has tried to appease [Irving] at every turn,” but then he went on to offer the “beat his a—” tidbit. That might not make for Silver’s favorite sort of “drama,” but for many fans of the NBA, Cleveland’s soap opera has turned into riveting theater.
Jefferson, whose podcast is hosted on LeBron James’ “Uninterrupted” multimedia platform, took exception to Irving’s trade request being fueled by any sort of feud with James. “I don’t think that there’s a power struggle, like with LeBron and Kyrie and (Kevin Love),” Jefferson said.
Much of Irving’s disenchantment with James was rooted in game play, sources said. James, as a once-in-a-lifetime talent, controlled the ball more than any other forward perhaps in league history. Which means the ball was out of Irving’s hands more than he preferred. That said, Irving led the Cavs in shots in the 2016-17 season, averaging 1.5 more per game than James, and Irving averaged a career-high 25.9 points. It was the first time in James’ career he didn’t lead his team in shots per game.
Several times during the Cavs’ playoff run, Irving had long, intense conversations with James as they tried to get the team into a groove following a choppy and inconsistent regular season, sources said. After a horrible loss to San Antonio on March 27, one in which Irving tied a career-worst plus-minus rating of minus-29, as he scored only eight points on 4-of-13 shooting, Irving was distraught. The Cavs had just lost for the third time in four games to fall out of first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time all season.
In registering his preference to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could well be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.
The Cavs are paying James’ Klutch Sports clients Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith for significant deals, and those contracts won’t easily leave the Cavaliers’ books. The Cavaliers have a singular tradeable asset, and it’s Kyrie Irving. Which he knows because Cleveland had included him in trade talks around the NBA draft, league sources told ESPN. Long before Irving voiced his desire to be moved, Cleveland had considered the possibility, too — and perhaps did so with a nod from James.
Jared Dudley: Something not adding up! 3 straight finals, 1 championship, and you want to leave. Bron the perfect compliment to his game 🤔
James, according to two sources, had no idea that Irving was unhappy with his role this past season or wanted out of Cleveland. James’s future in Cleveland is already uncertain after this season; he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and many around the league have believed for weeks that he’s likely to leave the Cavs for a second time and sign either with the Lakers or Clippers next summer.
Tommy Beer: Windhorst on ESPN: “LeBron was devastated, from what I understand… He learned this several days ago. This wasn’t new to him today.”
Two sources told cleveland.com Irving did not want to play with James, who has been the focal point of rumors about a possible departure from the Cavs as a free agent next summer.
“Kyrie informed the Cavs he no longer wanted to play alongside LeBron,” said a source with knowledge of the meeting between Irving, Gilbert, and Cavs’ leadership. “He wants to be the focal point, a franchise guy.”
Both the franchise and James were rocked when Irving asked the team to trade him last week. James was informed after Irving told the Cavaliers and was unaware of the guard’s feelings, sources said.
As the Cavs consider their options, sources said James has expressed to the team that he is focused on his offseason workout regimen and is planning to report to training camp with the intention of leading his teammates to a fourth consecutive Finals — no matter who those teammates are.
Chris Broussard: Here’s what I know on Kyrie front: he didn’t like LJ’s control of franchise, and he wants to be a full-time PG and get chance to run a team
James was informed of Irving’s request and was blindsided and disappointed, sources said. Other members of the team have learned of Irving’s intentions in recent days as well.
Dwyane Wade: I think he likes and liked playing with us both. It doesn’t have to be one over the other. He loves playing with good players period.
“When Kyrie made the decision to stay with us, we didn’t present LeBron as a free-agent option,” Griffin told ESPN this week. “We were concerned what would it look like for him because Kyrie had been really active with us in recruiting everybody that was going to come if LeBron didn’t come. And was very successful as a recruiter. [Gordon] Hayward wanted to come, Chandler Parsons would have come, Channing Frye would have come, Trevor Ariza would have come. Like, we had an opportunity to get everybody, and he had done a great job for us. So there was a little bit of trepidation on our part of, ‘Is he going to feel like we’ve asked him to go backwards?’ And from the very beginning, it was like, ‘Griff, all I want to do is win.’ So he’s been very receptive to it.”
Irving counts Bryant as a mentor and has talked to him about O’Neal in order to avoid the same mistakes with James. “It’s a tough balance,” Irving told ESPN. “Because everyone knows, Shaq was really dominant and [had] a lot of the individual accolades … unbelievable. And that’s who he was. And Kobe was just consistently working on his game and consistently trying to prove everyone all the time. And you got to commend somebody for that. That just shows the true testament of their will and what they’re willing to do and what they’re willing to sacrifice, but I know I don’t want to look back and say that I let my selfishness get in the way of us winning championships, because we have unbelievable talent on this team and unbelievable players, and so I don’t want to ever take that for granted.
Cavs management is tickled by how Irving has taken to James’ tutelage. “I think the one thought we had was that if he embraced it, it would be a great way for him to be around a true alpha and learn how to lead,” Griffin told ESPN. “He had leadership kind of thrust upon him very early because he was our best player, but he wasn’t really emotionally evolved enough to lead. He didn’t want that mantle. He didn’t want that responsibility. Nor should he have. So what’s happened now, I think he’s grown into that, and as he’s growing as a player and as a leader, LeBron becomes much more important to him, because having that sounding board there and having that actual example set for you is a really valuable thing. So we hoped that LeBron would be the one. The dream scenario is that he raises the next great player here.”
James is aware that Irving’s time is quickly approaching. “First of all, I don’t know how Kobe and Shaq managed their partnership. All I can know, from the outside looking in, [is] that it didn’t work out,” James told ESPN. “For me, I see Kyrie growing every single day and wanting to be great. And so me, I just try to give him the blueprint, as much as I can. You know, his experiences, he’s going to learn on his own as well, and that’s what he should do, but all I can do is give him the blueprint, and that’s it. Because he’s going to be around a lot longer than me.
In a league in which Stephen Curry has stretched the three-point arc with his range, Irving has been capable of taking over with his in-between game, his ball-handling, his 17-foot jumper. He completely won his matchup with Lowry, and won the admiration of his teammates. “Kyrie’s becoming a leader, a staple of this team,” James said. “I’m just in amazement with the way he handles the ball,” Channing Frye said.
“Our core guys – LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin, and so on – have just started to find a greater level of chemistry.” “Go Kyrie, go,” teammates heard James telling Irving. With 27 points and five assists for Irving and 24 points from James, they easily won the matchup against DeMar DeRozan (18 points) and Kyle Lowry (eight points). The Cavaliers crushed the Raptors on the glass (45 rebounds to 23) and in shooting (55.4 percent to 42.1). With Golden State and Oklahoma City appearing to be in the early stages of a classic conference final, Cleveland deposed of Toronto swiftly on this night, easily dismissing the Raptors’ fury.
Irving remains a dynamic scorer, but the disconnect between Irving and James is real, several scouts and coaches told The Vertical, with the on-court chemistry between the two, said one scout who saw Cleveland play recently, “basically nonexistent.” Team sources insist the relationship is solid, that James is simply teaching, trying to raise Irving’s basketball IQ. No one understands Irving’s importance more than James, team sources told The Vertical, which is why no one is working harder than James to get the two All-Stars on the same page.
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September 26, 2017 | 8:57 am EDT Update
It wasn’t hypothetical swaps for Carmelo Anthony — trades that the Cavs never seriously considered, according to sources. This time, Love’s name was floated out there in blockbuster deals for Paul George, who eventually went to Oklahoma City. “I don’t know if numb is the word,” Love said. “Some of the things are laughable. I know this is our job and this is our business and this is what we do for a living. But at the end of the day it’s a business. We’ve seen guys on several teams and throughout the course of history of the game, maybe a coach or a GM or a certain player has sworn that either they’re going to keep him or they’re going to sign this player, free agency and they get a better deal. It’s the better offer theory.
“I just take it with a grain of salt at this point and know that wherever I am, I want to be here, it’s well-documented, I want to compete for a championship. But at the end of the day I know that it’s a business and anything can happen at any given moment. I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep working and keep my damn mouth shut and go out there and try and perform.”
Speculation says LeBron James leaves Cleveland after this season. Former Post columnist Peter Vecsey wrote James “unequivocally” will bolt for the Lakers. “I think he leaves and he goes somewhere and he can always point back to, ‘Guys, I came back and gave you everything I have. We won a title but now I have to move on. You traded one of our top players …’” said one rival executive. “And if they have success, it’s a whole other story.”
While general manager Scott Perry said the starting center job will be one of the most important battles of camp, he admitted something could happen in terms of a trade. Who knows if Kanter, 25, becomes more of a two-way player after his 33-pound weight loss and renders Hernangomez a trade chip down the road. Or if Kanter is flipped for draft picks at the trade deadline to a team desperate for inside scoring? “Part of my job is to daily assess our roster, take phone calls and figure out ways to keep getting this basketball team better,’’ Perry said during media day Monday. “So I will continue to do that.’’
The Cavs will fill out their training camp roster with JaCorey Williams with their 20th and final spot, a team source tells ESPN. Williams, a rangy 6-8 forward, was named Conference USA’s Player of the Year last season while putting up 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Middle Tennessee State University.