In his weekly chat on ESPN.com. NBA Draft guru Chad Ford was asked “How hot are the collective seats of Chris Grant and Mike Brown? And who do you think the Cavs are most likely to target at the deadline?”. His answer ended with the follow two sentences that have sent Twitter ablaze with speculation about whether or not Irving really does want out:
Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can’t afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.
First off, take a second and consider the source. Ford is a top-notch draft analyst, but he’s not an NBA insider in the same way Marc Stein of ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski are. Until we hear this either from Irving’s mouth (or Stein, Wojnarowski or someone similar) then there isn’t any reason to freakout and start mentally trading away Irving.
Secondly, the Cavaliers control Irving for the rest of this year and the following two season. They can offer him a max extension next summer (which will likely be worth upwards of $80 million) and play for a qualifying offer for $9.7 million before entering free agency. That’s a lot of money to turn down (which is why no player has ever done it) and he’s not in the most favorable spot to force a trade. If he were set to enter free agency next July, then maybe that would be the case. But he’s not and unless he rejects an extension offer this summer, it would be foolish to trade Irving away.
Irving has yet to commit on the matter, but considering the Cavaliers play in New York against the Knicks this evening, he’ll likely be asked about it. As Jason Lloyd noted in his piece on the matter, the 21-year-old has given the organization his public support in the past.
Long story short, there isn’t any reason to freak out about Ford’s answer or Irving’s response right now. There’s a very good chance this blows over rather quickly (even if only temporarily) and the Cavaliers can go back to being a dysfunctional basketball team. Until we learn more or Irving comes out and says he does not want to be a Cleveland Cavalier, hold off on burning number two jerseys while your friend videotapes it on his cell phone.