For all the talk during the season that Kyrie Irving may have already decided to leave Cleveland, there is nothing more to say. The Cleveland Cavaliers knew they had one card to play versus Irving that could simply trump his hand. A lot of money and more guaranteed financial stability are things that go a long way for securing players on rookie contracts. The all-star point guard did what most players do when they are offered their first big contract. Reports confirmed early Tuesday morning that Kyrie Irving has agreed to sign a maximum contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs personnel flew out to the meet with the New Jersey native as early as they were allowed to negotiate according to league rules. What was supposed to be one of the more complex and stressful contract negotiations of this off-season actually wound up being completed smoothly and quickly. The new contract is for five seasons at $90 million. Irving is currently operating on his rookie contract so six seasons will pass before he is an unrestricted free agent again.
The Cavs’ franchise player has enjoyed many individual accolades in just three seasons in the NBA. Irving was drafted number one overall by the Cavaliers in 2011. He stared at local St Patrick’s High School and played one season for Duke. In his first season he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2012. Irving has quickly established himself as one of the leagues most talented point guards. He made the all-star team the last two seasons, and took home the all-star game MVP honors this last season.
Irving is one of the highest scoring point guards in the NBA. Coming into his fourth season the ball handling wizard boasted averages of 20.8 ppg and 6.1 assists per game last season. However, despite the 22-year-old guard’s talent, he has been unable to lead the Cavaliers to a playoff berth. Last season was a disappointment for the franchise as many experts pegged the Cavaliers to make the postseason. The franchise rehired former head coach Mike Brown but he failed to foster a relationship with the star guard. While Irving finished the season with high scoring numbers, his shooting percentage was down and the teamed lacked continuity. Irving will now be schooled by NBA rookie head coach David Blatt, whose Euroleague resume impressed Owner Dan Gilbert.
Gilbert has also hired former Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue. Irving and Gilbert were both very optimistic about the deal and the future of the franchise. Gilbert was the first to break the news of the deal, taking to Twitter. The Cavaliers owner noted that he is “looking forward to the next six years.” Gilbert was referring to Irving’s agreed upon contractual obligations for his max extension with Cleveland. While Irving’s Twitter account referred to his excitement and commitment. Irving, aka Uncle Drew, stated that he is in Cleveland “for the long haul” now.
With Irving firmly planted in Cleveland for the next six years, the Cavaliers can extend their maximum efforts elsewhere. Player development should be key, with number one pick Andrew Wiggins on board. Although he is seen as still very offensively raw, Wiggins has freakish athleticism and plenty of top end speed. The combination of Wiggins’ athleticism and Irving’s ability to create off the dribble and shoot, could make for a unique and very potent combination in time. Even if the Cavaliers fail to land LeBron they may be well on their way to making the city of Cleveland proud. But for now fans will just exhale that their best player is safe and sound. The deal is expected to become official on June 10, when NBA moratorium will make the signing legal.
Commentary by Brandon Wright