Drama and the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone hand-in-hand this year, with the latest crisis reportedly coming as the result of not re-signing Kendrick Perkins last summer.
Speaking on The Dan Patrick Show (h/t Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com) on Thursday, Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com said many Cavaliers players were "highly pissed" that Perkins was allowed to walk in favor of Sasha Kaun.
Haynes expanded on his report, saying Perkins added "the intangibles, the emotional leadership and the enforcer, the enforcement role he brought to the team."
Perkins signed with the New Orleans Pelicans last July and has appeared in just 15 games, while Kaun is a 30-year-old who has played 14 games in his first NBA season after spending six years playing in the Euroleague with CSKA Moscow.
The 31-year-old Perkins is certainly a respected veteran around the NBA. ESPN.com's Royce Young offered this breakdown of the center in December 2014:
It's happiness for a player who places his team above everything else and ignores the waves of criticism piled on him, instead only caring about the opinions of the other 14 guys in his locker room. Perkins isn't paid to score. He's paid to set crushing screens, defend the interior and establish a physical presence on the floor -- the kind of thankless tasks that don't earn accolades anywhere outside the film room. Points are found money.
There is certainly something to having that kind of leadership on a roster, but we are talking about a player who has appeared in roughly 25 percent of his team's games this season.
Considering the Cavaliers have one of the greatest players in NBA history and a 13-year veteran in LeBron James leading them, the fact Perkins' absence upset the team speaks highly of his intangibles and leadership qualities Haynes addressed.
Yet it's another wrinkle in the Cavaliers' story this season, which already includes the firing of head coach David Blatt when they owned the best record in the Eastern Conference and ESPN's Stephen A. Smith saying earlier this week on First Take (h/t Jacob Emert of the Washington Post) that Kyrie Irving "ain’t too happy being in Cleveland."
Per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Irving disputed Smith's report, saying after a victory over the Indiana Pacers that "there's nothing to really address" and his focus is "all about winning and winning a championship for Cleveland."
Usually when there is so much drama away from the court, it's because a team has imploded. The Cavaliers own the NBA's third-best record at 42-17 and will be favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
Yet the Cavaliers continue to be surrounded by drama regardless of their performance on the court.