It won't be the "Decision," but it will certainly be a decision.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto is refuting a report from New York Daily News that the Cleveland Cavaliers are ambivalent about offering point guard Kyrie Irving a max-deal come July 1. To the contrary, Pluto wrote:
My sources tell me that the Cavs have had no doubts about offering Irving the 5-year deal, and will do so. Once July 1 arrives -- the first date that an extension can be offered -- the Cavs will set up a meeting with Irving. They will present their All-Star guard with a contract extension, a 5-year deal in the $90 million range (or whatever is the maximum number).
According to Pluto, "The hope is that he will sign the five-year deal, much like John Wall did with Washington before the 2013-14 season. That was a signal to Washington's players and fans that he was committed to the team."
Granted, we're still operating in the realm of rumors at this point. Until July 1 actually rolls around, we can't be 100 percent sure about the organization's intentions.
Nevertheless, Pluto's claim seems fairly consistent with reality as we know it. As CBSSports' James Herbert noted, "It's long been assumed that Cleveland would offer Irving the max. After all, he's just 22 years old and has the skill set of a superstar."
A team like the Cavaliers won't have too many players of Irving's caliber come their way. It's a bit hard to imagine them being anything less than ultra-aggressive when it comes to retaining his services.
Losing LeBron James left such a sour taste in this franchise's mouth that you'd have to imagine it will do everything within its power to keep its best player around.
The bigger question is really what Irving should do.
At the moment, he sounds fairly interested in remaining in Cleveland, per The News-Herald's Bob Finnan: "I’ve been part of this, and I want to continue to be part of this. We’ve made some strides in the right direction, especially as an organization. I want to be part of something special. I don’t have a definitive answer to that right now."
The Cavaliers aren't exactly "something special" just yet.
But they could be getting there.
Cleveland has one of the more impressive young cores in the league, even if the results have yet to come. The team finished 33-49 this season, five games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Things could have gone better, but they could also have been much worse.
This is a work in progress, and Irving knows that.
The star point guard certainly did his part, averaging 20.8 points and 6.1 assists this season. He's long drawn comparisons to Chris Paul on account of his balanced ability to score and distribute the ball. He also has quite the handle.
Is he a finished product just yet? Not quite. At 22, he still has plenty to learn about running an offense as a true floor general. He could also grow into a much better defender. In short, Irving will almost certainly become more well-rounded as time goes on.
Having some stability and continuity couldn't hurt. The franchise needs to hire its head coach of the future after another failed go-around with Mike Brown this season.
More than any roster move, some consistency on the bench could do wonders for Irving's development. The last thing a young player needs is the mixed messaging associated with a revolving door of head coaches.
Assuming the Cavaliers get that part right, the broader question is whether they can win—at least anytime soon.
The odds are in their favor. With a little patience, Irving could be on to much bigger and better things.
Backcourt cohort Dion Waiters has grown into quite the scorer. Despite persistent rumors that Irving and Waiters can't get along, recent reports have suggested the contrary. Free-agent teammate Luol Deng indicated that there's nothing but love between the two.
Irving suggested as much, too, telling reporters, "off the court and on the court, we're the best of friends."
Maybe the on-court chemistry could improve, but that's the kind of thing a new coach and continued time together could help. Corporate knowledge doesn't develop overnight. These guys will continue to grow closer if they just stick together.
And they should.
Cleveland has several talented young bigs in Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Anthony Bennett. The latter didn't have the rookie season for which anyone was hoping but give him some time. The franchise had faith in him for a reason, and with improved conditioning and some more polish, he should become a valuable role player at the very least.
The organization can also secure some veteran talent via free agency. Even after offering Irving a max deal, the Cavs could either bring in outside talent or spend money on some combination of in-house free agents like Deng and Spencer Hawes.
That's a solid core, especially if you take into account the young guys' growth and development.
And oh by the way, Cleveland also has the No. 1 overall selection in this summer's draft. That could translate into a center of the future in Joel Embiid or a talented swingman like Andrew Wiggins. Either way, Irving would have another serious weapon with whom to play.
Though this team has its sights set on the playoffs next season, we should really be thinking about two or three seasons from now. That's when this collection of talent could really start to pay off.
Hopefully Irving will wait around long enough to be part of it.
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