Flash back to January 2014: Kyrie Irving was reportedly telling people he wanted to leave the Cavaliers.
A few months later, LeBron James returned and Irving’s world changed. There has been some rockiness, but LeBron carried Irving to basketball’s biggest stages, where Irving has earned a reputation as a big-game player. Irving won a title, and Cleveland will contend again next year.
But what about 2018, when LeBron could leave the Cavs (maybe for Lakers or Clippers)?
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:
All-Star Kyrie Irving has been contacting some of his former Team USA teammates and letting them know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially if he feels the Cavs’ run could end quickly with James able to opt out after next season.
Through back channels, Chicago would be one of the places that Irving would be interested to play.
It’s easy to see these conversations getting spun beyond the intent. It’s a short hop from a vague “Wouldn’t it be cool if we played together?” among friends to this report.
But Irving will be just 26 next year and under contract for another season. The Cavaliers likely want to make him centerpiece of their next era.
If Irving threatens to leave in 2019, when Kevin Love can also become a free agent, they might trade him. And Irving might do that.
It’s fair to wonder when and how far Cleveland falls. It could get ugly in a hurry.
But I wouldn’t assume Irving is already lining up hard contingencies if LeBron leaves – or that the Cleveland will accommodate Irving’s plan even if he makes one.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.
The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.
Bob Kravitz of WTHR
In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”
Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.
The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.
I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.
The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.
Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.
Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).
But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.
Could those issues derail his career?
Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”
On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.
But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.