Kyrie Irving is the Cavaliers’ only All-Star since LeBron James, the unquestioned franchise player.
Irving can also become an unrestricted free agent as soon as 2016 (though it’s much more likely delayed until 2020) and has reportedly expressed a desire to leave Cleveland.
Even though Irving denies those reports, if I were running the Cavaliers, I’d make an effort to keep Irving happy. A big way to do that is giving him input into the coach he works with daily.
But Cleveland general manger David Griffin, speaking in a pointed tone, denied Irving played a part in Mike Brown’s firing.
“Any – any – insinuation that Kyrie Irving had anything to do with this decision is patently false,” Griffin said. “It’s unfair. He was not counseled on this decision, nor was he counseled on the previous coaching decision.”
If he wanted to save Brown’s job, Irving probably could have. Even if management didn’t want to hear from him, Irving already has the cache to endorse a coach and dare the team to go against his wishes – if he wanted Brown to stay.
Irving wants to play for a successful team, and Brown offered little evidence he could take Cleveland to the playoffs anytime soon. I certainly wouldn’t blame Irving for wanting a change.
And what would be so wrong with consulting your star player on his coach, anyway? Irving is more important to the franchise than the coach. Be up front with Irving and say you’re not necessarily going to follow his wishes, but seek his input.
Asked how Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert will affect the hiring of the next coach, Griffin said, “This will be a collaborative effort effort. I will not make any decision alone, but I will absolutely be leading this process.”
If Gilbert wants to give input, he should. It’s his team, after all. And Griffin’s response shows he’s not afraid to cede some of his power in the name of teamwork.
But Irving is important to this franchise, too. Considering Chris Grant’s midseason firing, maybe even more important than Griffin.
The idea that star players must remain subservient to the coaches and general managers is long outdated. Irving should be viewed as more of a collaborator with the next coach rather than an underling. So, Irving should have a voice – though not decision-making power – in picking his partner for building a winning team.
Griffin can have his principles about players staying their place. I’d rather have Irving on a third contract.