July 24, 2014

On Kyrie and Commitment

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Kyrie Irving walked the walk. After what seemed like an eternity of rumor and innuendo surrounding his disdain for Cleveland and the drain-circling direction of the Cavaliers, all of which were verbally rebuffed by the point guard, Irving took minutes—not days, or weeks, or even months—to provide the handshake that will keep him draped in wine and gold through 2020. For months, Irving was the subject of boundless speculation. For months, fans demanded a sign that he was, to borrow a phrase, “all in” on Cleveland. He could say whatever he liked—it was what he did that mattered.

Well, at the first chance he was given, Irving put his money where is mouth was. And so did the Cavs—$90 million worth.

This isn’t a time to shoot back at the national media who had pegged Irving as a player with one foot out the door. He may have very well been unhappy with the situation and the perpetual stages of losing. He may have not gotten along with all of his teammates or coaches. But things change. Chris Grant has been relieved of his duties; David Griffin has jumped in like a red-headed breath of fresh air in a goatee. Mike Brown is no longer drawing up hapless offensive sets. Instead, David Blatt and Tyronn Lue—two point guard-centric coaches—are calling shots. Both men were reportedly very instrumental in the late-night presentation to Irving. And the days of losing to accumulate draft picks are in the rear view. Despite all of the asset accumulation that was taking place, Griffin and his staff have a very clear goal put forth by the ownership team: It’s time to win basketball games.

Players like Irving don’t come around very often. Sure, he has his faults—his defense borders on deplorable; his body language could certainly use some fine-tuning. Stats can be parsed. Film can be looped. What Irving is, for all of his shortcomings, is a 22-year-old, lighting fast point guard with handles that will make your head spin. He has a lot of learning to do, and he’ll be the first to tell you as much. But he’s a two-time All-Star with one of the best offensive skill sets in the league. The Cavaliers undoubtedly made the correct call in offering Irving that five-year, $90 million deal. It’s a sign of commitment; it’s a sign of cohesiveness. And they still have plenty of flexibility. The proverbial ball is now in the court of Kyrie Irving who has to live up to the deal that will be inked on July 10, one that could be worth even more in the event he qualifies for the ever-popular Derrick Rose Rule.

So no, this isn’t a time to take shots and point fingers. It certainly isn’t a time to worry. It’s a time to celebrate, Cleveland. You did your part, fans. It’s now up to Kyrie and the Cavs to do theirs.

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

  • Kyrizzle

    I definitely wouldn´t describe Kyrie as “lightning fast”. Coming into the league, scouts said he lacked athleticism and quickness, and I´m not sure that´s changed much. He looks MUCH faster than he is because he has the illest handle on this side of the Mississippi, meaning the ball doesn´t slow him down like other players. Simply amazing handles, jump shot, and finishes, but he would get torched by Wall, rondo, Westbrook, or Parker in a short race.

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    I’m multitasking, I’m celebrating, but also finger pointing, because it is much deserved and cannot be left unchecked.

  • mgbode

    PG’s gotta dribble in that short race. Put some obstacles in the way, and I’m taking Kyrie.

    Bring back the Allstar skill challenge!

  • JHop

    Don’t think he’s really all-in on Cleveland as much as he’s all-in on $90 million – the different between what the Cavs could pay him and any other team is quite substantial. It’s why (almost) never turn down their first max extension, not city loyalty. While it’s nice to see him stay, I wouldn’t bet on him being here forever.

  • mgbode

    The only disagreement I have here is that many players want an opt-out. LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Carmelo, Love, etc. all demanded options in their contracts.

    I have seen nothing that indicates Kyrie will have such an option, which means that he is more fully invested in our team.

  • mgbode

    Here is my reaction to knowing we get to cheer for Kyrie the next 6 seasons…

    http://gifatron.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/minions-excited.gif

  • mgbode

    Media thinks Kyrie is doing this to Cleveland:

    http://anothercityurbanite.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/giphy.gif?w=612&h=343

    Kyrie actually doing this to Cleveland:

    http://media1.giphy.com/media/QbkL9WuorOlgI/giphy.gif

  • Clown Baby

    So far the media have said the following:
    - Kyrie wants out and won’t sign a max deal
    - The Cavs FO won’t offer him a max deal because they don’t think he’s worth it
    - If the Cavs offer a max deal they’re overpaying
    - If Kyrie signs a max deal it’s because he wants leverage to demand a trade

    Keep in mind, if the Cavs didn’t offer Kyrie a max deal the narrative would have been the Cavs let another MEGA SUPER STAR walk out of Cleveland (even though they were driving the narrative that Kyrie wasn’t worth max money.)

    The moral of the story is ignore the noise. I haven’t seen one national or local beat writer correctly predict both the Cavs’ intentions with the draft or the Kyrie signing. The Cavs are fodder for national ridicule, not actual news or analysis.

  • mgbode

    That is fair and many of us here (with no sources!) predicted both easily as they were the obvious choices to make.

  • Clown Baby

    I guess common sense doesn’t get CLICKZ!

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    In the open floor, no—he’s not John Wall. That said, I’ve seen him go coast-to-coast and beat all five defenders—with head starts—down the floor. “Quick” may have been a better word choice, but just because he wouldn’t win a 100-meter sprint doesn’t mean he isn’t incredibly gifted.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Suit yourself. Emotion is a finite resource. I much prefer to allocate mine constructively.

  • Clown Baby

    Want to know why there is so much coverage of the sensational? It's what you read. Kyrie re-signs with Cavs, not in Top 10 at PBT today.— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    These guys are (mostly) strangers who were chosen to play for a given town. Professional sports is a never-ending allocation of risk.

    The Cavs are risking $90 million; Kyrie is risking five more years of his career. Come 2020, if Irving is still a Cavalier, he’ll rival Joe Thomas in city-wide tenure (which shouldn’t be underrated given the amount of turnover across all three major sports). If he’s not, it’ll be because he was traded and the Cavs would have presumably received compensation in return.

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    If that’s the case shouldn’t we all pull the reigns on criticizing players, coaches, and front offices?

  • Jason Hurley

    Which finger?

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    Also, for the record, I’m not searching out these guys and leaving comments. I’m only pointing the finger figuratively.

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    The thumb, pointed down.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    When the time is right, sure. We don’t get too many days like this in Cleveland. Would much rather pump the breaks on the criticism for a bit and enjoy the fact that one of the most talented players to wear “Cleveland” on his chest will be doing so until the team feels it’s no longer an investment worth making.

  • https://twitter.com/Steve_Not_Chad Steve_Not_Chad

    Fair enough.

  • Harv 21

    Won’t repeat what I’ve said on other threads other than I doubt Blatt and Lue convinced him within a few minutes last night – Kyrie hardly seems the impulsive sort and his camp has undoubtedly considered their reaction to the expected offer for months.

    I do wish someone with brains and time would address the general lack of fan outrage at the lack of accountability to completely baseless reports about these things. Talking about reports with sketchy or transparently biased sources listed as anonymous “team insiders,” at total spitballing repackaged as “rumors” and then that repackaging reprinted in multiple places until it is clothed in the legitimacy of “multiple reports.” If we enjoy this sort of journalism(?), ‘roided up by twitter and the like, let’s just bask in it and stop bitching. If we want some responsibility let’s call not just out the mongers on it, let’s stop clicking on those that do, let’s append their failures to their bylines with reminders of past errors. Let’s shame them, pain them as the National Enquirers they are. I love the draft, love free agency. But hate myself for hyperventilating at each idiotic thing flying around that has is sent without fear of any repercussions as to its accuracy.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    “I doubt Blatt and Lue convinced him within a few minutes last night – Kyrie hardly seems the impulsive sort and his camp has undoubtedly considered their reaction to the expected offer for months.”

    The wheels were in motion since the day Mike Brown was fired. Last night simply sealed what they had been working toward for some time—convince this kid that the team is *finally* going to have a system in which he can thrive, with teammates equally (or at least close to) talented as he. If it doesn’t work, he still get his $90 million.

  • JNeids

    It’s a vicious, but more “importantly,” NEVER ENDING cycle. And it’s only gonna get worse, just like other trends in sports. For every one of us logical, reasonable folk who stop clicking every breaking rumor, there are 10 more who won’t stop. Even though I won’t pay top dollar to go see my teams play every night, there will always be enough butts in the seats ensuring the prices never come back down to reasonable levels. And any good story on my Facebook timeline gets buried under 10 status updates about what people had for breakfast and what it looked like on the flip side. Such is life these days.

  • Harv 21

    When you wrote they were essential to the late-night presentation I thought you were implying that’s what induced Kyrie to sign. My point is simply that Kyrie doesn’t immediately pull the trigger based on their presentation. They must have been talking philosophy with him since their hires. Once they reached out, how flattering is it that the entire hierarchy, from owner to assistant HC, rings your bell at midnight, to show you’re the man despite having just picked the first overall in the draft.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    From Woj: “Blatt and Lue “were incredibly impressive,” Irving’s agent, Jeff Wechsler told Yahoo Sports. “That’s what helped sell Kyrie on taking this deal.”

    But yes, it has been my understanding that David Blatt had been in contact with Irving prior to last night. Irving has also been in touch with Andrew Wiggins. Tough to imagine that the future was not a part of any discussions.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Different discussion for a different day, but until the compensation changes from a per-click basis to something that is aligned with quality, I don’t know how this (ridiculous) world ceases to exist.

  • woofersus

    I think the wheels were in motion since the day Chris Grant was fired. I think Kyrie felt a little hamstrung by Brown’s system, and I think he probably understands basketball enough to realize the down-tempo style wasn’t really best suited to the roster as it was constructed, (by Grant) but man did a cloud lift off of those guys after Griffin took over. It didn’t hurt that Hawes came in and was a big help, but nobody looked like they were enjoying themselves until that happened.

  • woofersus

    Well, Blatt did say he was one of the top four most convincing people in the world or something like that. Seems like a pretty charismatic guy.

  • Karsten Treu

    I don’t think he ever didn’t “talk the talk” or “say” anything that showed his “disdain” for Cleveland. I think he was frustrated and upset during some horrible years for the team, but reporters and speculation smeared him.