Updates from Thursday, July 10
Just days after welcoming 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins to town, the Cleveland Cavaliers have assured fans that the No. 1 selection from 2011 would be joining him in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
As expected, point guard Kyrie Irving came to an agreement with the team on a contract extension early Tuesday morning, the first day in which 2011 rookies could restructure their deals.
Owner Dan Gilbert announced the news:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweets out how long and how much the deal is worth:
Kyrie Irving intends to sign 5-year, $90 million extension with the Cavaliers, league source tells Yahoo Sports. Commitment came in meeting.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
ESPN's Marc Stein noted why the deal won't be official for another nine days:
No deals can be signed before July 10 when leaguewide moratorium lifted but teams/players can strike verbal agreement as Cavs/Kyrie just did— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2014
Irving immediately tweeted out his excitement:
I'm here for the long haul Cleveland!!! and I'm ecstatic!! Super excited and blessed to be here and apart of something special.#ClevelandKID— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 1, 2014
In three seasons with the Cavs, the explosive Duke product has averaged 20.7 points and 5.8 assists per contest, establishing himself as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the league. He already has two All-Star Game appearances, including an MVP nod in 2014.
Despite that, there have been questions as to whether he was deserving of a max deal.
While his offensive skill set and showstopping ball-handling ability will never be disputed, "Uncle Drew" hasn't yet developed into an intimidating presence on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, the Cavs allowed 106.8 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor and just 101.4 with him on the bench, per NBA.com.
Still, let's not forget that Irving turned 22 in March. He's younger than several 2014 rookies and has already produced more than many established veterans.
Moreover, the environment in Cleveland has been far from optimal for his development, which hasn't been as smooth as many have hoped. He has played under two head coaches in three years (about to be three in four), while the Cavs have struggled to build around him properly.
Things are looking up in that department, though. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, Irving is happy about the hiring of David Blatt:
Sources close to @KyrieIrving say he's happy so far with coach David Blatt. "Most positive talk I've ever heard btwn Kyrie & Cavs," said 1— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 30, 2014
The addition of Wiggins is also much more than just the creation of one of the most enthralling young backcourts in the Association. Wiggins has all-world defensive potential, which can help cover up Irving's deficiencies on that side of the ball.
Conrad Kaczmarek put it simply:
Keep Wiggins and Kyrie and you can’t really go wrong. Do whatever else you want.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) June 27, 2014
Ultimately, this was a no-brainer for the Cavs. Whether the rumors of Irving's unhappiness were true or not, a refusal to offer him the max contract extension would have been insulting and damaging to the relationship.
Is Irving worth the max deal?
Even if they have questions about his defense, he has franchise-player talent, and this establishes some much-needed stability going forward.
After a rough patch, the arrow is pointing up in Cleveland. A young core of Irving, Wiggins, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson to go with Blatt on the bench is quite intriguing for the next couple of years.
And if Irving responds to his max deal like John Wall did in 2013-14, then the Cavs will be seeing the postseason very soon.