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)?
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.