This wasn’t the plan. With Kyrie Irving finally healthy for a full season, the Cleveland Cavaliers should have been in a spot that enables them to make the playoffs. Instead, they’ve lost almost twice as much as they’ve one, and their supposed franchise player is getting more and more reasons to find himself a new team as soon as possible.
The Cavs are now 16-30 after their loss to the New York Knicks, and not releasing Andrew Bynum or adding Luol Deng, someone who should have brought some winning experience, leadership and attitude to the team, have changed the downward spiral this team has been on since the beginning of the season, with every small sign of improvement quickly squashed by another awful offensive performance.
When NBA.com did a survey at the beginning of the season, asking NBA GMs which player they would like to start a franchise with, Irving finished third that poll: Only LeBron James and Kevin Durant were in front. And yet Irving has been going through periods of ball hogging and even longer moments of no defensive effort whatsoever. That’s not how a franchise player should be playing, and yet the Cavs have no doubt they want to keep him for the long run. After losing LeBron James, Gilbert made some sort of vow to never let a franchise player hit free agency again.
The Cavs have him signed through the 2014-2015 season, before he becomes a restricted free agent, which means he team controls his rights through at least the ’15-16 season. However, if Irving doesn’t show signs of wanting to stay or sign an extension, the Cavs will move on to try and trade him, not wanting to go through another painful ‘decision’, something they’ve failed to rebuild from properly despite four years having gone by.
Irving and Brown, Irving and the City, Irving and Dion Waiters. The bottom line is that the Cavs aren’t succeeding to get to the playoffs, although hope is not lost. Not for them this season, still only three games behind the 8th spot, and not with Irving, insisting with his non-denials he does see his future with a team he’s failed to really bring to where some expected him to.
I’m in Cleveland. I enjoy myself. I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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. I’m still trying to get through this season. Everybody is trying to antagonize this team and put it on me to ‘privately he wants out.’ 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.