Those are things that have been written about the Cavaliers’ guards this season.
Now, they’re trying to quiet talk of the internal strife.
The Cavs propped up Irving and Waiters in front of the media on April 7 after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts, just to promote an aura of unity.
Waiters said he was friends with Irving long before he came to the Cavs. They crossed paths in the AAU circuit.
“I just think, man, throughout this whole year with us two not liking each other, it’s total BS,” Waiters said. “We’ve been friends before we even made the NBA, before any of this. I just think y’all saying we don’t like playing with one another. … Yeah, we still need to learn certain things, but I think at the end of the day, we’re genuinely friends. I love him as a friend, teammate, everything. I just want everybody to know that. I don’t hate this guy.
“I’m pretty sure he don’t hate me. I know he don’t hate me. I hope he don’t hate me. Rome wasn’t built in one day. We’re still young. We’re still planning to stay together. We’re still working. As long as we’ve got great communication down, it’s fine.”
“We’ve had numerous occasions where we’ve been in the media about me and Dion’s relationship. I think me and him are just tired of it. I just want to move past it and play basketball.”
I don’t know how Irving and Waiters truly feel about each other, and while there’s a lot of smoke, I’d be speculating if I said with certainty their relationship is on fire. But I do know they took the time to speak together publicly, and that shows any problems between the two aren’t so bad they can’t be controlled when the media is around. And if they can be controlled when the media is around, they can be controlled when basketball business is at hand. Irving and Waiters don’t need to like each other, but they need to work together, and this is a strong sign they can at least do that.
I also know the Cavaliers perform worse offensive and defensively, getting outscored by 6.5 points per 100 possessions, when Irving and Waiters play together. That, more than their off-court relationship, must be addressed. If they play better together, I bet they’ll eventually like each other more.
Winning just soothes problems and brings out the best in everyone.