Can the relationship between Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers really be saved?
You have to wonder, given over the last several weeks the two sides have flip-flopped more times than even Lance Stephenson could ever think of in a career of Eastern Conference finals matchups.
Now comes word in NBA circles that the Cavs and the ever petulant Dan Gilbert plan to offer the third-year, All-Star guard a max deal this summer as he grows closer and closer to being able to freely take his talents elsewhere.
Never a shy one to begin with, Irving has let it be known he wants a deal in the neighborhood of the five-year, $80 million package John Wall recently secured from the Washington Wizards and the Cavs’ organization now appears to be responding in a way above and beyond.
Perhaps sensing that the future could be theirs — provided owner Gilbert and his minions ever prove willing enough to get out of their own way long enough to just let it happen — the Cavs, emboldened by the fact they have again secured the top overall pick in this year’s NBA draft for the third time in four years, are rumored to be willing to go as high as $90 million over five seasons to net Irving’s long-term services.
But with all that’s been said-and-done between the two sides, even that may not be enough to soothe the savage beast that is the Irving camp. Word is Irving felt greatly slighted by the Cavs initial resistance to extend him the max and given that his heart has never truly been in Cleveland to begin with may simply be ready to move on to greener pastures.
In the 22-year-old West Orange, N.J. native’s mind, those greener pastures could be back to NYC, a stone’s throw from where it all began for him and where he has made no secret he would like to build on his legacy at some point and time.
Striking you as being as temperamental as he is young and gifted, the Cavs haven’t exactly been the best thing that’s happened to Irving given their own unstable foundation. Whomever Gilbert settles on as coach Mike Brown’s replacement for the second time in four seasons, it will now be three coaches and — knowing Gilbert — counting over the last four seasons in Cleveland and the third Irving has already had to take direction from in less than four full seasons.
You can’t help but wonder if Irving and backcourt Dion Waiters may not have clashed as loudly and routinely as they did if there were a more experienced and tempered voice around to speak to them. You can’t help but think 2013 overall top-pick Anthony Bennett wouldn’t have all but forfeited his rookie season if he could have benefitted from that same kind of guidance.
And now the Cavs are hoping to entice Irving into a return engagement based on their max offer and what could be for them stemming from having the No. 1 pick in what could potentially be one of the best overall drafts in recent memory, one that boasts a talent pool that includes the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Aaron Gordon.
But if Cleveland is to now have a chance, it all starts with Irving. And the now the Cavs finally too seem of know that. They can only hope they got out of their own way in enough time for it to matter.