Throughout last season, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers appeared to be having problems.
There were rumors Irving didn’t want to be in Cleveland, the Cavaliers didn’t want to offer him a max contract, Irving and Waiters didn’t get along and Irving wasn’t in the loop with the team’s brass.
Irving almost definitely wasn’t going to turn down a max-salary contract extension this summer, but there seemed to be a possibility he’d take fewer years to allow his escape sooner. At minimum, he could have waited until later in the offseason to see how Cleveland built its roster.
How did the Cavaliers convince him so quickly?
The Cavs and Kyrie Irving met in a Manhattan restaurant at one minute past midnight on July 1 — the first moment they could officially discuss signing a five-year, $90 million extension with their guard.
Owner Dan Gilbert and Griffin talked big picture, and it had to sound more like a wild dream to Irving.
The Cavs would add Love and James. It really, really could happen, they insisted.
Really, Irving wondered.
Really, Gilbert and Griffin insisted.
“Kyrie bought in,” said Griffin. “That started everything. It created the momentum.”
On July 1, calling the Cavaliers signing LeBron James and trading for Kevin Love “far-fetched” would have been an understatement. It seemed downright impossible.
But Irving believed, and his confidence in the organization might have played a part in LeBron’s decision to trust the franchise he once spurned, which led to Love joining Cleveland.
Of course, Irving had about 90 million reasons to stick with the Cavaliers, which makes any LeBron-Love dreams secondary. Again, though, Irving could have pushed for a shorter extension. If he was truly dismayed with Cleveland, he probably would have.
In the end, Irving’s faith was rewarded. Not only did he get his near-max contract extension, he’ll play with LeBron and Love next season. Just as Gilbert pitched.