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League execs on Kyrie Irving’s recent struggles: ‘He’s pouting’

Dec 7, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

kyrie AP

Kyrie Irving has been far from the dominating, game-changing point guard he showed capable of last season, and people around the league are beginning to take notice.

He’s had games where he’s put up some decent numbers, but has done so inefficiently in recent weeks.

After an 0-9 performance in Cleveland’s blowout loss to the Hawks on Friday, one of the Cavaliers’ beat writers shared what he heard about Irving from some executives around the league.

From Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

The whispers have been growing louder around the NBA for weeks and now Friday’s scoreless performance will get everyone’s attention. With each lousy shooting performance, more and more people want to know: What has happened to Kyrie Irving? …

I asked him tonight after the cameras and recorders were put away if his arm is still bothering him, but he said no. Irving fell on his right arm during the second game of the season at Charlotte and complained of numbness. He said afterward it affected his shot and he was taken for x-rays, but they revealed nothing and Irving was back for the next game. Irving is sensitive to his injury history, and I thought perhaps he is playing through some sort of discomfort in the arm to keep from admitting he’s hurt again. But he said no, so we move on.

Irving’s performance is baffling not only fans and his teammates, but other executives around the league. Players in the locker room have told me on multiple occasions he’s missing shots he never missed before. “He’s pouting,” was the explanation I’ve heard recently from two league executives.

Watching all of Irving’s nine misses, it was apparent that some of the shots were open looks he usually makes, but he was also forcing some difficult ones.

His first shot of the game was a spinning fadeaway from the baseline, which was tough but makable. Then came a drive into the lane and an awkward floater over a big that didn’t have a chance. Irving’s next look was an open corner three, followed by a drive to the basket where he missed a layup that rimmed out but was contested. An open pull-up three in transition followed, and it was short.

After that, Irving created a wide-open 15-footer that came after a nifty crossover he used to shake his defender. His next one was a drive left where he lost the ball on the way up, but recovered in time to get up a difficult shot. His last two shots were both wide open — a three from the left wing that his defender essentially dared him to shoot was again short, and a 15-foot jumper rimmed out with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third that was his final shot of the night with his team trailing by 20 points.

Irving was clearly pressing, but “pouting” is more difficult to prove. There have been reports of locker room issues involving Dion Waiters that could be affecting him on the court, but without knowing for sure whether the problems are physical or mental at this point, it will simply remain something to watch.

  1. cakemixa - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    Exactly when did Kyrie Irving became a dominating, game changing player? His career W/L record is 51-116, or 30%. Another “superstar” created by ESPN/the media, lol.

    • mytthor - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Obviously Kyrie has some work to do, but since when is W/L record a statistic used to analyze basketball?

      That statistic is usually used for Baseball pitchers (for them it’s a terrible measure, too), and NFL QB’s. These are team sports, W/L doesn’t go on one player. Not many players average 20 points per game through their first two years. Superstar is a pretty imprecise term – but Kyrie is a clear max player and I don’t think you’d find any GM’s around the league who disagree, pouting notwithstanding.

    • elcapitanfiscal - Dec 7, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      I agree, but he showed insane potential and had some awesome games..everyone expected him to take it up another level but instead he has just been straight up horrible

    • muhangis - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:10 AM

      Win / loss record is the only thing you are basing your statement on?? Basketball is a team sport, and one guy [no matter how good he is] cannot do it all by himself. You sir simply have a lot to learn.

      But to the point of this article, Kyrie is in a really steep slump, this is not just any slump here, outside of his 0 pt. effort he’s been awful for weeks, and it’s indeed baffling. He was amazing as a rookie, and improved on that significantly his second year! For a guy still a few months shy of turning 22 (where he’s got so much potential still left), you expect him to be sharply improving at this stage, but it’s been just opposite of that lately.

  2. jamesk2465 - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    His game last night was the worst I’ve ever seen him played. I understand some shots aren’t just gonna go in, but you can do other things. If Chris Paul went 0-9 guarantee he’d have at least 11 assists 5 reb and 3 steals.

  3. bballhistorian - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Learning how to be a leader on the court can mentally drain a player…especially one that deals w many egos. But that’s the job of the COACH to put everyone in their place……

  4. abchome - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Trade him for uncle drew!

  5. sdl65 - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Trade him and keep Dion. In the long run the Cavs will be better off. Your point guard can’t be the main guy unless he’s Magic Johnson. I know Magic Johnson and Kyrie Irving is no Magic Johnson.

    • uncledrew22 - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      They need to trade Waiters. He’s the malcontent.

      • jamesk2465 - Dec 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

        Why trade Waiters ? Last 10 games he’s avg 17 pts on 47 shooting. He’s def not the problem

    • mytthor - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      Chris Paul? Tony Parker? Jason Kidd? Allen Iverson? Isiah Thomas? Gary Payton? Steve Nash? Steph Curry? Derrick Rose?

      Not to mention guys who aren’t PG but play the PG role, as much as Magic did. LeBron, Harden, Grant Hill in his prime, etc.

      And even if you are correct about SG’s somehow being inherently more likely to be the best player on a successful team, Dion Waiters definitely ain’t that guy.

      • sellahh - Dec 7, 2013 at 4:20 PM

        How many of those guys won it all? Parker had a finals MVP but Duncan’s overall impact on both sides, just for the sole reason he’s a big, outweights Parker’s. Isiah had a great, great team behind him. What did the other guys do exactly?

      • mytthor - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:18 PM

        Jason Kidd, Iverson, and Payton led their team to the finals. Rose won MVP and he and Curry are still in their early 20’s. Ivy also has an MVP, and Jason Kidd should have one. Nash has 2 and he revolutionized the way the offensive game is played (along with D’Antoni).

        But yeah, I’m sure Waiters will be big.

    • muhangis - Dec 9, 2013 at 6:23 AM

      If you truly know Magic Johnson (or studied his game), then you’d know that he was also exceptionally high in turnovers, was an atrocious 3-pt. shooter, and a poor defensive player. [I still love him as a player, just saying...]

      And Magic also had Kareem and Worthy to play with, so he was only so much the “main guy.” I was never really sold on Kyrie being a point guard, [by definition] he is not a true point guard, he’s a combo guard! He’s just given the point guard title for whatever reason.

      That said, they need Kyrie to play much, much better than he has lately!

  6. mustangs2 - Dec 7, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    I fell for the hype and drafted him in the first round for fantasy.. I can’t be the only one

    • bealwithit - Dec 7, 2013 at 5:24 PM

      He was drafted first round by one of my friends (6th overall) and I got John Wall in the 2nd round (15th overall) and Anthony Davis in the 3rd round (so underrated before the season and killing it now).

      Both have been stuffing the stat sheet for me.

  7. doctordunkenstein - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    The reason for Irving and the rest of the cavs struggle is Mike Brown. Great guy, hard worker, HORRIBLE head coach. Rehiring Brown may ultimately be the reason why LBJ doesn’t return to Cleveland. Well, that and the fact that the Cavs owner tried to curse Lebron

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      And they’ve blown lottery picks like no other. And who chooses Cleveland over Miami?

  8. innovativethinking87 - Dec 7, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Damian Lillard is better. Look at his team this year..

    • bealwithit - Dec 7, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Yup. I can name 8 point guards having better seasons than Kyrie this season (Chris Paul, Russel Westbrook, Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague) and that is not even including talented injured guards like D-Rose and Rondo.

      How is this guy ranked as the 8th best player in the league when he isn’t even the 8th best player at his own position?

  9. stephenolszewski - Dec 7, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Keep Kyrie trade Dion, Dion drills a 3 down 16 points and he’s taunting the Hakws bench. We heard about his attitude issues before drafting him and now we are seeing these issues now. Tristan’s game has regressed ever since the locker room argument and clearly Kyrie has been effected even more by this too.

  10. bealwithit - Dec 7, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    This guy was ranked 8th in the NBA rank while Kobe was 25th. He is over hyped by the media.

    He averages 5 assists a game for a point guard while Kobe, a shooting guard with a poor passing reputation, got 6 last year.

    His team’s winning percentage with him on the court and when he is injured is nearly identical. That tells me that he doesn’t impact the game and more importantly doesn’t make teammates better.

    Last year, John Wall’s team was 4-28 and he made them a lot better. That improved record and the fact that he gets 9+ assists a game tells me that he makes teammates better and impacts the game (role of a true point guard and franchise player).

    I will be voting for John Wall as the starting point guard of the East All Star team, but Kyrie will probably get voted in because of media hype and a funny commercial.

  11. jeffkx - Dec 7, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    I think it’s pretty obvious these two don’t like each other. I think this game was Kyrie’s way of saying ,”Look, I can score 0 points and Dion scores 30 and we still lose. It’s him or me and you better pick me”.

    • jamesk2465 - Dec 7, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      lol these are grown men ? nobody in the NBA would think like that

      • jeffkx - Dec 7, 2013 at 7:52 PM

        So the exact same thing is happening in Houston (Omer-Dwight) but according to you nobody in the NBA would think like that? Not your finest moment.

      • jeffkx - Dec 7, 2013 at 7:55 PM

        Here’s a link because clearly you aren’t smart enough to find the article yourself.

        http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/11/14/report-omer-asik-asks-rockets-to-trade-him/

      • jamesk2465 - Dec 7, 2013 at 8:02 PM

        Omar been saying since July he’s been wanted to be traded that’s no mystery. To say a player comes out and intentionally tried to score 0 pts is retarded esp the best player on the team. And there’s no issues between Dion and Kyrie it was with Thompson and dion,

  12. ripcitymacine - Dec 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    John Wall>Kyrie Irving I’ve been saying it since the start of the season but no one believed me

  13. jeffkx - Dec 7, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    Sorry forgot to add this on my last comment. I would pout too if I looked over and say Alonzo Gee starting at SF and CJ Miles starting at SG.

    • sportsfan18 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      And that’s what kids are like today. Kyrie is pouting.

      If a young MJ looked over and saw Gee and Miles starting and not playing well, he’d be all over their asses and even punch them during practice.

      The league is so soft today vs. the 80’s. Players got mugged driving the lane.

      Hand checking was legal mugging too.

      The NBA was kind of like hockey as many teams had enforcers.

      It wasn’t wise to pout around Michael (or many others during that time frame for that matter).

  14. janessa31888 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    And the soap opera of Cleveland misery continues. I have a feeling that Kyrie will be out of here as soon as he can and I cant blame him. If he does, he can take Chris Grant along with him.

  15. Awol.West - Dec 8, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Young leaders go through trials, especially when turning around a franchise. Since most fans know about media exaggerations and agenda, let the player grow without hating from afar.

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