There is a saying that goes “be careful what you wish for.” This is a warning that if you get what you desire, there may be unintended consequences. Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving should take this warning to heart with his demand to be traded after reaching the NBA Finals 3 times in the past 3 years including winning the 2016 title.
Irving wants to be traded since he wants to get out of LeBron James’ shadow and go to a team where he can be the “focal point.” His preferred destinations include the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, and San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron James was supposedly “blindsided” by Irving’s request but denies any harsh feelings between him and Irving but events have proven otherwise. Irving has “unfollowed” James on Instagram and more telling that something is definitely wrong is the fact that the Cavs, reportedly, can no longer get in touch with Irving. Recently, another story has come out that Irving would like to go home and be traded to the Knicks. Irving went to high school in nearby New Jersey.
It is understandable that Irving wants a trade given the Cavs’ offseason of disarray. While their rivals Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics continued to improve with key acquisitions and signings, the Cavs’ only move so far was the signing of often injured point guard Derrick Rose who plays the exact position as Irving. Another more compelling reason is the fact that Kyrie signed his max contract a few weeks before James rejoined the Cavs and he never really had a chance to be “the man” in Cleveland. But can Irving really carry a team on his back?
This may be an unfair comparison since Irving is only 25 years old and about to enter his prime but he was the most talented player on the team for 3 seasons but failed miserably. He holds a 64-117 win-loss record in games he played until James arrived. The No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft failed to make the playoffs during the period. Irving reached the NBA Finals the first year James returned and even managed to post a career year last season averaging 25.2 points while scoring 47.3 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line. Obviously, he has become a better player as the running mate of James.
While Irving is one of the most explosive scorers in the league, statistics would show that he’s simply not a winner. The Cavs have been outscored by two points per 100 possessions with James off the court. The biggest knock on Irving is that he doesn’t play any defense. He is also not a pass first point guard since his penetrations are hell bent on scoring instead of passing to the open man.
As it stands, Irving is under contract for the next two seasons with a player option for the third, which means that the Cavs can opt to do nothing and let Kyrie play despite his desire to leave.
Irving is better off with the Cavaliers and LeBron but it seems that he believes otherwise. Call it overconfidence, call it hubris, but Irving is definitely in for a rude awakening once he finally gets traded.