Koby Altman Talks Kyrie Irving, LeBron James in 1st Press Conference as Cavs GM

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James greets Kyrie Irving during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Koby Altman made his first public appearance Wednesday after officially replacing David Griffin as the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Altman is the fifth general manager to work for the Cavaliers since Dan Gilbert became majority owner in 2005. Gilbert said he's "as proud as I've ever been to name somebody general manager" and that he's "never felt as well as I do [about him]," per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin.

Altman takes over under unenviable circumstances.

LeBron James is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, and it's far from a sure thing he'll return to Cleveland in 2018-19. In addition, ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported Kyrie Irving is seeking a trade.

Altman emphasized he believes the franchise is still on solid footing, with NBA TV sharing his comments:

Altman also downplayed any friction between Irving and James:

Windhorst, McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne reported for ESPN.com that Irving has grown "tired of being Robin to James' Batman," which factored into his decision to ask for a trade.

Both Altman and Gilbert declined to go into much detail about Irving's situation, with Altman telling reporters that the team will keep things "in-house," per the Associated Press' Tom Withers. Gilbert added that he didn't "feel it's appropriate to get into the details," according to McMenamin.

Altman did, however, speak highly of Irving's value to the Cavs.

"He continues to be a core piece of who we are and what we do," he said, according to WKYC's Ben Axelrod.

Gilbert said the organization is planning to have Irving show up to training camp as long as he's under contract, per NBA on TNT:

The AP's Jon Krawczynski noted Gilbert and Altman didn't unequivocally state Irving will remain in Cleveland:

Altman was more definitive when talking about James, per Fox Sports Ohio's Allie Clifton:

Gilbert acknowledged, though, that James can ultimately determine whether he wants to re-sign with the team next summer.

"We do not control all the cards that we get dealt," Gilbert said, per SB Nation's Kristian Winfield. As of now, it doesn't appear the newly signed Derrick Rose will feature prominently. Altman described his role as an "off the bench, backup point guard," per Axelrod.

While Irving's and James' futures were a hot topic, the conversation also focused on the Cavaliers' high GM turnover. In his statement following his departure, Griffin said "the fit is not right for [he and Gilbert] to continue with one another."

Gilbert explained his decision to move on from a GM who helped the team reach three straight Finals and win a title in 2016, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor and McMenamin:

The Irving trade could help set the tone for Altman's tenure.

The general consensus is the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers failed to receive a strong return when they traded away Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Flipping Irving for multiple valuable assets will be a strong first move for Altman.

In addition, the Irving trade could help set up the Cavs for the future should James leave and the team's fortunes change drastically next year.

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