Months of speculation were put to rest early this morning after Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Kyrie Irving both announced on Twitter that the team and its star point guard had agreed to terms on a five-year, $90 million maximum extension.
What about all that talk about Irving being unhappy and wanting out of Cleveland?
For now, it appears as it if was just that — talk.
Speculation has been rampant since last July when CBS Sports’ Brendan Tierney reported that Irving wanted out of Cleveland. Since then, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst confirmed the same report on multiple occasions.
One of two things happened here. Tierney, Windhorst and other sources that cited Irving’s unhappiness were either wrong, or Irving has since changed his mind. Irving is the only one who knows the true answer here, and he likely is never going to reveal it publicly.
For now, Cavaliers fans should be happy that the team was able to lock up a player like Irving, who still has considerable upside. He’s not without his flaws, but this was a necessary move.
It’s better to try to win with Irving than risk watching him win elsewhere.
Here are some other quick observations about the Cavaliers’ re-signing of the former Duke product:
- In many ways, the extension is a gamble for both the Cavaliers and Irving. The Cavs are betting that Irving is young and still has room for growth. Similarly, Irving is betting on the Cavaliers as an organization that will put him in the best position to succeed.
- While it was probably the best move for the organization, there is no guarantee that Irving will pan out as a maximum extension player. As noted above, this remains a gamble and the Cavaliers are betting on Irving. There are many cases in which a team reaps the benefits after offering a player a maximum contract, but there are also plenty examples of the opposite situation (see Gordon, Eric).
- Simply put, Irving is going to have to work on his defense. He is now among the highest-paid players in the Association, yet he remains one of its most ineffective defenders. That has to change.
- Does this hurt the credibility of ESPN’s Brian Windhorst at all? Windhorst has long been known to be one of the Association’s most credible reporters, but he was wrong on this one. For months, he said that Irving would likely turn down a maximum extension offer, yet the star point guard agreed to the deal just minutes after being offered it. It didn’t even seem like he ever had second thoughts.
- If there was some truth to the rumors that Irving was unhappy in Cleveland, then what exactly changed? There are reports that Irving was pleased with the hiring of head coach David Blatt, so kudos to General Manager David Griffin and Gilbert on that hire. Blatt has only been here two weeks, but he’s already made a strong impression.
- How does this affect LeBron James and a potential return to Cleveland? Back in April, Windhorst revealed that LeBron likely would not be open to playing with Irving as a rift had developed between the two stars. Of course, this would not be the first time that Windhorst was wrong.
- This coming season is going to be a fun one. Last season was plagued with whispers that Irving wanted out, and the stories seemed to always come out after a tough Cavaliers’ loss. For the first time in years, the franchise seems to have a clear direction with many of its core players intact for the next few years. The NBA’s top team (San Antonio) was built on stability, and it’s refreshing that the Cavaliers are finally looking like a stable franchise moving forward.