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Kyrie Irving, Cavs young players are an optimistic group

Feb 17, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

East All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers competes in the three-point contest during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend in Houston Reuters

When the microphones were turned off at one media session this week, one All-Star player (not from the East) wanted to talk about Kyrie Irving. He said he and other players were talking and think in three years he’ll be the best point guard in the NBA.

It’s hard to argue — his game has grown this year and he showed Saturday night he has range on his shot, winning the Three Point Shooting contest.

That is at the heart of what Cavaliers players have been saying all weekend in Phoenix — they’re young but they like what is being built.

“It’s exciting,” said forward Tristan Thompson. “We’re all around the same age, we’ve built through the draft. Look at the (Rising Stars game Friday night), we have four guys in our starting lineup who are in this game. It shows how much time and effort we are putting in to get better as a team.”

Those guys are Irving, Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller.

“We’re really young, we’re figuring out things,” Irving said. “I mean our starting five, we probably have 10 years of experience, all five of us combined.”

But you’re not going to grow into an elite team in the NBA without an elite player, and that is Irving. His timing coming to Cleveland was unfortunate in that it was easy to see him as the guy replacing LeBron James. That’s not fair to Irving, who is a very different kind of player and leader.

“It’s just me trying to be myself, I wasn’t trying to replace anybody,” Irving said. “I am trying to turn a new page in Cleveland, get the fans excited again, to show the fans we have a lot of hope and are optimistic about this team.”

Irving, after returning from injury, has been very impressive, having made leaps since his rookie season — when he was Rookie of the Year.

“The pace of the game slowed down for me,” Irving said. “Just understanding who else is on the floor, understanding defenses.”

Irving also had added a little muscle in the offseason to help with the physicality he has started to face, but that didn’t exactly go according to plan.

“At the beginning of the season I came in feeling like I had a lot of armor on me,” Irving said. “Then I had my wisdom teeth taken out, lost 10 pounds. I got sick, I lost five pounds. So now I’m back to where I started.”

Cavaliers players all talked about seeing more young players come in through the draft. Irving seemed interested in maybe seeing if some free agents can be brought in as well. The Cavaliers have what free agents covet most — cap space.

But whatever direction that goes, the young guns of the Cavaliers think they are building something special. And they may be.

  1. Michael DeCicco - Feb 17, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Grant & Gilbert have done a great job giving Clevelanders hope. If Waiters, Thompson and Zeller can grow into above-average, consistent players (which is the big, big if), they may have a shot at becoming a contender in the future… behind Irving of course. That kid is just flat out unbelievable. Believeland!

    • progress2011 - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      I agree Michael,

      Hopefully, the emergence of Irving will allow the city of Cleveland to restore their economy, after the departure of Lebron.

      The local economy lost millions (probably a billion) in revenue after LBJ left. Which I believe was the main reason the city was so mad because the guy did everything right, pertaining to his contract.

      Plus his “decision interview” was primarily done to raise a MILLION BUCKS for the boys and girls club.

      I’m happy for Clevelanders. But they better spend some money and put some talent around Kyrie or he’s gonna dip too.

      What franchises, cities and owners have to understand is – players work for you. It’s BUSINESS.
      So all the crocadile tears from fans and owners are irrelevant.

      Owners make business decisions to protect their interests….. Athletes are afforded the same opportunity because their talent is their business and they can take it to the market that will build the best prospectus/ portfolio for their ……..BUSINESS !

  2. thekingdave - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    @progress2011

    The decision was done for the sole purpose or raising money for charity? Check yourself dude, LBJ sneezes out a million dollars.

    • progress2011 - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      Queendave,

      Why should I check myself?

      Even if he does sneeze out a million dollars…doing a televised infomercial that raised a million dollars for his charity is a GREAT “BUSINESS DECISION”.

      Have you not heard of all the ex-atheletes that go broke because they splurge too much. I’m happy for LBJ to keep that Million in his pocket….

      But still raise money for his charity ! Which is much more important that the emotions of some Fan-atical fans that don’t understand BUSINESS.

      Check that !

    • troy10 - Feb 17, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      Like you said… LeBron sneezes out a million dollars. So… instead of that LOOK AT ME thing he did with Jim Gray.. and the “Decision”. Why didn’t Lebron donate the 3 million dollars (that was raised) to the charity and just leave quietly with out all the hoopla??
      Imagine how good he would have looked like then…. he just quietly announces he’s going to Miami and he’s donating (since he sneezes millions) 3 million to the boys and girls club. He would have been praised instead of rightfully vilified!

      • progress2011 - Feb 17, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        WELL Troy,

        I only re-stated Queen Daves comment, about sneezing a million dollars.

        I don’t have working knowledge of LBJ’s accounting. I don’t do his taxes.

        To end the discussion….why don’t all of LBJ’s critics about “THE DECISION” donate a Million Dollars on his behalf….then you can tell another grown man how to handle his business.

        OH….”You Don’t Got A Million Bucks To Spare”……then please shut your face !

      • troy10 - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:05 AM

        WELL progress,

        That’s great you don’t have knowledge.. but you really didn’t answer my question.. all you did was attempt some tired old internet tough guy routine. I guess you told me!
        You must REALLY have a man crush on LeBron, because even people still like him admit that the decision was in poor taste. Hell, he HIMSELF has admitted he wishes he would have handled that differently. And he regrets “The Decision”.
        So what does that say about you? HA

  3. clevelandschronic2 - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    I love everything thats being done by GILBERT & Grant. Stacking all these draft picks and the trades that have been made is smart. Save the cap space for irving and lets maybe package some picks to move up the draft and get a star SF or C. Or just save em and wait til another team decides to trade their star and we will be a contender as all these young players continue to grow either way i have full faith in Gilbert and Co.

  4. wwttww - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Regardless, Kyrie ain’t sticking around with the Cavs too much longer.

  5. thekingdave - Feb 17, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Yes, you absolutely need to get your head checked if you truly believe the SOLE PURPOSE of the decision was to raise money. If that was the case, why not get a respected journalist to moderate a “great cause” such as Mike Tirico as opposed to slime ball Jim Gray. The charity was a cover. It represent’s the height of LBJ’s narcissism. Luckily his inner circle has learned their lesson.

    Your broke athletes argument holds zero weight. These former players’ career earnings pale in comparison to what LBJ brings down in one year.

    • progress2011 - Feb 17, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      If your lack of Business Economics 101 does not help you to understand that a Million Dollars, is still a Million Dollars….then you are beyond help.

      Based on the simple fact that, the network was willing to donate a Million Dollars on his behalf, he can deduct that contribution from his taxes………WOW !!!

      That’s a marvelous Business Economic plan!

      Dude I’m gonna shut it down here because I need you to pay me, if I’m gonna be your economics instructor (that’s also a great business decision to get paid for your services).

      I will leave you with a free tip – Sign up for some economics or business classes.

  6. money2long - Feb 17, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    i said rondo had the edge on him at the moment, and apparently kyrie may subtly agree when saying in 3 yrs he’d be the best.

  7. adoombray - Feb 17, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Players are not in Phoenix, they are in Houston. If they were in Phoenix, i’d be buying you a beer and urging you to proofread your site better in person. You miss the proper pronoun in almost every article you post man, and i’m not trying to be a troll here, i’m legitimately hoping someone at NBC reads this and gives the “lead editor” an editor…

  8. ecreech410 - Feb 17, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    The future is bright in Cleveland. Whether or not LeBron comes back (and I think he does) we have Dion, Tristan, Kyrie ,Tyler, Andy and a 2013 top 5 pick as the core. We also have a ton of cap space in 2014 (LeBron?) and all our own first round picks forever along with Miami’s first rounders in ’13 and ’15, Memphis’ 1st round pick sometime from ’15-’19 and that Sacramento pick we got for JJ Hickson. Plus, I bet Chris Grant takes on a bad ’13/14 contract for more first rounders..

    So if LeBron does come back it would be:

    PG Kyrie
    SG Dion
    SF LeBron
    PF Tristan
    C Andy / Tyler
    + 2013 top 5 pick

    Not too shabby from where we were after LeBron left…plus conceivably we could trade Andy’s $9.8 million expiring contract in ’14 and some of those first rounders for a decent player…

  9. clevelandschronic2 - Feb 17, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Why would kyrie leave. Have you read any of the comments he makes about how he loves his team and the organization. Read his comments from yesterday all he talked about was representing the city and the organization this weekend. You’re insane.!!

    Ps hes under team control til like 2017, Cavs are the talk of the allstar wknd. All those picks are gonna be only adding to this talented roster. So future is only getting brighter

  10. thekingdave - Feb 17, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Man, they really should start requiring people to be at least 16 years old to be eligibility for a WordPress account.

  11. progress2011 - Feb 17, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    YEP…self proclaimed king of NOTHIN !!!

    They should start with you cause ALL of your attempts at making a LOGICAL point have been shot down with force.

    Come back when you are 17′ish !!!

  12. thekingdave - Feb 17, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    I don’t remember you rebuking any point I made. Alas, I guess I’m just a “hater”.

  13. latchbeam - Feb 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    @ money Rando has a torn ACL… You are better than him right now! To all the others talking about the Lebron’s decision, if you think it wasn’t about him primarily feeding his ego, then you don’t have enough common sense to talk about Lebron.

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