Sorry, but all of those questions are just nonsensical. Irving isn't leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers anytime soon.
Ever since CBS Radio's Brandon Tierney created the story by claiming that Irving is "not long for Cleveland," there's been far too much speculation about the talented point guard's future.
Thanks to claims like this, we're left talking about where Irving will play next rather than more pertinent questions. We could be discussing how he'll improve, whether he can lead the Cavs to a postseason berth and how long it will take him to ascend to No. 1 in the point guard rankings.
But now Irving is expected to become the next floor general to sign a max contract, following in the footsteps left by John Wall, who was drafted a year before him in that same No. 1 spot. That deal will inevitably be worth right around $80 million over the course of five years, and it will lock Irving into his Cleveland home for the foreseeable future.
The deadline for signing a contract extension is October 31, 2014, so don't expect any immediate resolution to the situation.
Irving re-upping with the Cavs is the only thing that can truly put an end to the ridiculous speculation about him leaving the franchise behind. But there are plenty of other signs he has no intention of playing for another team.
No Indications That He'll Leave
The first—and perhaps most important—sign is simply the absence of any indications that he wants to leave the Cavs.
Irving has never said he wishes to leave Cleveland.
In fact, everything he's said has been in the exact opposite vein. Take this quote, as relayed from the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd:
Right now I’m a Cavalier. This is where I am. All that future stuff, I’m not really worried about. I’m living in the moment right now and I’m just trying to get better with the teammates I have now and make the playoffs for Cleveland. That’s the only thing I can do right now is give it my all as it stands right now and that future stuff, I’m not really worried about it.
That was said in response to questions about why he'd used the phrase "right now" when describing his status as a member of the Cleveland organization. You know, because we're supposed to read into every phrase used during a live interview about an uncomfortable topic.
Here's how Lloyd's article finished:
While he avoided the topic of his contract with reporters, Irving did address the campers and their parents Saturday.
“I’ll be here awhile,” he said unprovoked after taking the microphone, “so everybody get used to my face.”
In fact, Irving even denied the rumors right after Tierney originally started them:
But was that enough to suppress the media hounds who want to play with the drama of Kyrie leaving Cleveland?
Of course not. The rumors still run rampant, especially because of the Cavs' recent history of losing stars.
And by recent history, I'm really only referring to one player.
LeBron James Precedent
I apologize for showing Cleveland fans a picture of LeBron James back on the fans, but it's a necessary reminder that his departure is exactly why these questions exist.
In a lot of ways, the situation was even more conducive to LeBron staying put, but he still spurned his old team for the allures of the Miami Heat.
When the current MVP hit free agency, he was well into his NBA career. He'd already made multiple All-Star teams and been named MVP twice. There was no doubt that he was one of the league's best players (if not the absolute best), and he'd achieved all of that success with Cleveland.
While Irving is tracking toward the top of the point guard rankings, he hasn't reached that level yet, and it's unlikely that he does so during his third professional season. He doesn't have the track record with the Cavs that LeBron did.
Hell, LeBron even made it to the NBA Finals, and Irving has yet to make the playoffs.
Additionally, Cleveland isn't home for the talented point guard. He was born in Australia, went to high school in New Jersey and attended Duke, which most assuredly isn't in Ohio. There are no ties he would have to break.
Basically, the argument for Kyrie leaving involves the ease with which he could do so. He simply wouldn't be breaking as many ties as LeBron because he doesn't have as many established.
But even that line of thinking overlooks one crucial element, and it's the main one that makes questions about the former Rookie of the Year leaving nonsensical.
Talent of the Roster
LeBron simply never played with the type of talent Irving is currently blessed with.
Let's take a look at the depth chart during the year James led the Cavs into the NBA Finals:
- Point guard: Larry Hughes, Daniel Gibson, Damon Jones, Eric Snow
- Shooting guard: Sasha Pavlovic, Shannon Brown, David Wesley
- Small forward: LeBron James, Ira Newble
- Power forward: Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Dwayne Jones
- Center: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Scott Pollard
That roster is awful.
No offense to the centers and Drew Gooden, but there just isn't much talent. If you took LeBron off the team, there would be a chance at the No. 1 pick in the draft, not a No. 1 seed in the postseason.
The same simply can't be said about the current makeup of the Cleveland roster. Even if Irving left, the Cavs would still be working with a starting five of Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee/Earl Clark/Sergey Karasev/Anthony Bennett (does anyone actually know?), Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao/Andrew Bynum.
Between the capabilities of the guaranteed starters and the depth at small forward and center, this roster is significantly better than anything LeBron played with during his time in Ohio. There's no reason for Kyrie to leave town in search of a more competent supporting cast, and that makes all the difference.
So Cleveland fans out there, go ahead and savor every minute of watching Irving break down a defense. Not because your time doing so is limited, but rather because it's just that much fun.
The first time Irving hits free agency, he'll be doing so as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2015. Go ahead and pencil in the Cavs matching any offer, even if he does decline to sign an extension before that date.
Actually, don't even bother using a pencil.
This is such a sure thing that you may as well use a pen.
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