Kyrie Irving Says He's Fine Staying with Cleveland Cavaliers

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

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Despite a mounting loss column and reports of his unhappiness, All-Star guard Kyrie Irving says he's glad to be a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For now, at least.

The 21-year-old told reporters he's relishing his present with this franchise and thinks he sees a continued pairing in his future.

"I'm in Cleveland. I enjoy myself," he said, via's Brian Windhorst. "I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers."

So why did Irving, who has one more season left on his rookie contract (but cannot become an unrestricted free agent until 2016), feel compelled to shed light on his outlook?

Well, it started with ESPN Insider Chad Ford creating a media maelstrom during an online chat. Ford was answering a question about the job security of Cavs head coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant when he painted the picture of a locker room in turmoil and a superstar player, Irving, itching for his chance to escape it:

Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can't afford to lose him and LeBron.

Ford did not say exactly what was driving Irving out of Cleveland. It could be the market size. It might be the Cavs' (16-30) inability to put themselves in a watered-down Eastern Conference playoff picture, despite having four top-four picks (and a pair of No. 1 selections) over the last three years.

Even if this is bigger than the game itself, Cleveland's on-court product can't be helping matters. The Cavs have lost five of their last six games, including an embarrassing 117-86 rout at the hands of the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Still, the point guard hasn't said the team's lethargic play will eventually push him out the door. Not publicly, anyway.

"It's not about me and it's not about this controversy -- 'Do I privately want out when my contract is up?' I'm still in my rookie contract and I'm happy to be here. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here for a long time," Irving said, via Windhorst.

That's not the firmest of commitments, but recent history suggests it doesn't have to be. Even the small-market stars who forced their way to bigger cities—Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Dwight Howard—did so after signing their first contract extension in their first NBA homes.

Irving said "it's still too early to say" whether he'll commit to a contract extension this summer, via Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain DealerHe may not really have his mind made up yet.

If nothing else, he's been consistent about being undecided.

"I gave him another chance to say he’d accept a max contract extension from the Cavs this summer and he again refused," Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote. "That's twice the topic of a max extension has come up and both times he refused to say he would take it."

It sounds like Irving is open, but not bound, to the idea of staying in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.

It's the Cavs' job to move him from the former to the latter—one they're executing poorly at the moment.