Dan Gilbert Thinks Kyrie Irving Will Stay in Cleveland Once He Becomes a Free Agent

by January 09, 2012

After the whole LeBron James fiasco (“The Decision”, etc.) in Cleveland, every promising player that dons a Cavs uniform now has a black cloud hanging over them and the franchise. And for what it’s worth, owner Dan Gilbert believes rookie Kyrie Irving will stick around when he gets the chance to leave a few years from now. From the Morning Journal: “Kyrie Irving’s NBA career is in its infancy, but people are already worrying about him leaving in free agency. Such is the life of being a Cleveland sports fan. The Cavs have Irving under contract for two years, plus two additional option years, plus a fifth-year qualifying offer. That takes us into 2016. NBA owners tried desperately to add a franchise tag in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said it was in there for a while, but it ended up on the cutting-room floor. ‘It’s hard to know what exact piece was close or not close because there were so many moving parts,’ he said. ‘That certainly was discussed. I think it probably would’ve been a good thing overall for the NBA. Unfortunately, it wasn’t part of the agreement. But I think we did get some things that will make it better for the small market and mid-market teams.’ Gilbert, part of the faction labeled ‘hockey’ owners in negotiations, said teams will have a greater chance to hang onto their own free agents in the new deal. ‘That difference in what you can pay your own max player is significantly more than it was in the previous one,’ he said. ‘Hopefully, that will help and be a difference.’ Obviously, LeBron James left the organization two years ago in free agency. Gilbert said he thinks they’ll have a better chance to keep Irving and forward Tristan Thompson when they reach free agency. ‘The draft picks we have now, as far as organization goes, we’re here from the beginning,’ he said. ‘People forget we were not here from the beginning of the previous era. We came in Year 3 (for James). We weren’t able to establish a foundation and a relationship at the beginning. It’s a whole different thing now and I really think it will be very different when this core of guys comes up for a contract. Who knows exactly who will be here and who won’t, based on what happens in the NBA. (If) we keep doing the right things in the organization, keep making the arena and the franchise a great place for players to play and we start winning, things will take care of themselves.’ He said teams will be able to pay their own free agents more than other teams. ‘(If you’re) re-signing your own free agent, you now get another year and you can pay him 30 percent of cap (in a max contract) as opposed to other teams can only pay 25 (percent),’ Gilbert said. ‘When you add it altogether, in a situation where you have a max player, it’s something like $28 million more to stay with the existing team than to leave your team and go to another.’”