Two-time All-Star Kyrie Irving might be singing Cleveland's praises whenever a microphone is within earshot, but his entourage is reportedly carrying a much different tune.
Although the Cleveland Cavaliers control his rights through the summer of 2016, the 21-year-old could get up close and personal with his future this offseason. If he wants to stick around for a long time, he'll have that option.
"The Cleveland Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension once they're allowed to on July 1," ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reports.
That shouldn't be surprising to Irving, the closest thing to a superstar this franchise has seen since LeBron James uprooted his talents in 2010.
What's still a bit mysterious, though, is what Irving will decide to do once that offer arrives. Should he decline, he might effectively be punching his own ticket out of town.
"If he hasn't signed it by October, the team will likely be forced to trade him before the Oct. 31 deadline for third-year players to extend their contracts," Windhorst writes.
That's apparently something the point guard might be open to. Despite public assurances of his satisfaction with his current situation, there may be something brewing behind the scenes.
"It's no secret that Irving's camp has been making it known for years now the point guard would like to be elsewhere long term," Windhorst writes. "No matter how much he denies it."
How much stock should Cavs fans put in this news?
Well, it'd be nice if we knew exactly who made up "Irving's camp." I'll take a wild guess and say Cleveland hype man Drew Carey isn't part of Irving's circle of trust, but just who is standing behind those closed doors?
Without knowing who's saying he wants out, it's hard to put a lot of stock into the words.
Then again, we don't have much of a choice based on how little Irving himself has given us.
He's been pretty noncommittal about his plans, although never so ambiguous as to unnecessarily rile up the Cavs fans.
"I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers," Irving said in late January, via Windhorst. "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."
That's as definitive as fans can hope to hear at this point. He's leading a team desperately searching for a way into the playoff race, so as much as we'd like to think otherwise, there's a good chance he hasn't even started weighing his odds with regard to his future yet.
Irving might not be a Cavs lifer, but he might not be on the cusp of a swift exit either.
"It's almost unheard of for a star coming off of a rookie deal to not re-up for at least a three-year extension and they never take the one-year qualifying offer to become an unrestricted free agent the next summer," CBS Sports' Zach Harper noted.
There's too much at stake for Irving not to accept something this offseason.
While playing through his qualifying offer would give him complete control of his destination, he'd also face the risk of suffering a major injury while on that deal and costing himself the chance at a jackpot payday.
With his star shining bright (see: All-Star Game MVP) and the pain from James' exit still looming over this city, Irving has tremendous leverage. I'd guess the safest bet is that he'll use all of that to secure a significant extension and put his departure plans on hold for a while.
Hopefully that helps you rest a little easier, Cavs fans. That's as good as it's going to get until he puts his name on some dotted line.
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