Kyrie Irving has, time and again, publicly denied that he’s unhappy in Cleveland. However, reports contradicting this stance continue to hound him – the latest indicates that the All-Star point guard has for years let the Cavs know that he doesn’t want to stick around for the long haul. Per ESPN:
The Cleveland Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension once they’re allowed to on July 1, and if he hasn’t signed it by October, the team will likely be forced to trade him before the Oct. 31 deadline for third-year players to extend their contracts.
The Cavs aren’t without leverage. They can match any deal offered if Irving hits restricted free agency in the summer of 2015, and they control his rights through summer 2016. Waiting out that period would cost Irving millions, not to mention open himself up to losing it all should some unforeseen major injury occur. For these reasons, no player in Irving’s position has ever declined to a sign a maximum contract offer.
In his three seasons, the 21-year-old has spent a total of five days above .500, none of them coming after the second week of the season. That’s more a reflection on his team, but it goes to show what Irving, who is currently ranked ninth among point guards in player efficiency rating at 20.04, has overcome to get uncommon national popularity in a small market like Cleveland.
There are those who even wonder whether Irving is truly worth a maximum-level contract, including some within the Cavs organization. His game has regressed a bit this season, particularly from a leadership standpoint, with his clashes with Dion Waiters making headlines, and it has raised a red flag or two in-house.
And while Irving has said all the right things about staying put in public, it’s no secret that Irving’s camp has been making it known for years now the point guard would like to be elsewhere long term. No matter how much he denies it.