Cavs’ title group should’ve had more time together, according to Iman Shumpert

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

In an interview on Wednesday, former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert touched on how he believes the Cavs’ title-winning group didn’t have enough time together.

Even now, as a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I do miss watching the ball-handling wizardry of Kyrie Irving. Irving, in pretty shocking fashion, requested to be traded by the Cavaliers before the 2017-18 season, and the Cavs and then-rookie general manager Koby Altman dealt Irving to the Boston Celtics.

That trade didn’t work out too well in terms of the return from Boston, but it did eventually lead to now still having Larry Nance Jr. via a deal later on.

Plus, a pick via the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft then eventually led to Collin Sexton‘s selection, and now, with Sexton leading the Cavs with 20.8 points per game thus far going into the current NBA season’s suspension due to concerns regarding the novel coronavirus, I’d say Sexton is a potential cornerstone piece for Cleveland.

Irving since ended up signing with the Nets last summer via unrestricted free agency, but at any rate, it is still unfortunate that we only got to see Irving healthy in two NBA Finals appearances alongside LeBron James and others, such as Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, on the Cavs.

In a recent interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (as was h/t Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway), former Cavs guard Iman Shumpert essentially touched on how he wishes the Cavs’ title-winning group had more time together. That was most notably Irving being with the Wine and Gold, and realistically, James.

This is interesting to hear from Shump, who played with Irving from 2015-17 on the Cavs, in how he and Irving have seemingly discussed how maybe the title-winning group, well at least key contributors when including Irving in that mix, too, broke up too soon.

This stuck out from Shumpert’s interview with Charania, as was transcribed by Conway.

"“Me and Kyrie have spoken, and just talking about being in that time and thinking you’re making decisions for yourself, then sort of looking back and saying ‘You live and you learn,” Shumpert told Shams Charania of Stadium. “I’m not saying I regret it, but we had a good thing going. Sometimes you wish you would have held on. Or, you know, the owners and the rest of the front office would have held onto us all for longer.”"

As we all remember vividly, Irving’s shot with under a minute left in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals propelled the Cleveland Cavaliers to their only championship in team history, and LeBron, Kyrie and Cleveland did so while becoming the only team in NBA Finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

That was against a Golden State Warriors team that set the regular season record for wins, too, with 73, and versus a unanimous regular season MVP in Stephen Curry along with others, such as Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and company.

That being said, the Cavs would face the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, and that against the Warriors with Kevin Durant, who signed there following the Cavs’ victory over Golden State in the summer of 2016, and is now a Brooklyn Net, via unrestricted free agency last summer.

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KD has not played with the Nets at all this season due to a ruptured Achilles, and Durant and three other players on the Nets that previously tested positive for COVID-19 are all symptom-free, per Nets general manager Sean Marks and h/t The Athletic‘s Alex Schiffer. Durant did not deal with symptoms before, but again, that was great news.

Anyhow, though Cleveland did have a real shot at making the 2017 Finals a longer series had Kyle Korver knocked down a corner three-pointer in Game 3, Durant came back shortly thereafter and buried a deep triple over James, giving the Warriors a 3-0 series lead, and the Warriors took that series in five games.

Of course, the following year, LeBron was completely outgunned in the 2018 NBA Finals, even factoring in how the Cavs could’ve definitely stolen Game 1 of that one, and had a real shot at winning Game 3. Cleveland got swept, though, which was not a complete shock.

Nonetheless, even if Kyrie didn’t request a trade and say the Cavs’ key title pieces had more time together, as Shump, who last played for Brooklyn, seemingly would’ve wanted looking back, I tend to agree with Conway in believing the Cavs would still have a ton of trouble the following season against Durant and company, even with Irving with them.

Now if LeBron went on to sign elsewhere in free agency, as he eventually did with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018, and Irving were still on the Cavs, I wouldn’t find an Irving trade request to be close to as surprising as it was the summer before.

Either way, though, at least as Shumpert hit on, that prior Cavaliers’ group got the franchise a title.

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That’s something that fans of the Wine and Gold will always cherish.