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Kyrie Irving on Cleveland: “I’m happy to be here”

Jan 31, 2014, 10:37 AM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

You knew Kyrie Irving was going to say something like this.

Thursday afternoon a report leaked that Kyrie Irving was telling people around him he wanted out of Cleveland, a fan base still a little sensitive to stars being unhappy and bolting them. So you knew Irving was going to get asked about it.

And what did you expect him to say? He had to downplay the report.

He said he’s “happy” in Cleveland, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

“I’m in Cleveland. I enjoy myself. I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Irving said…

“It’s not about me and it’s not about this controversy — ‘Do I privately want out when my contract is up?’ I’m still in my rookie contract and I’m happy to be here. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time,” Irving said….

“I’m not saying anything to tell the future, but I’m pretty sure the relationship I have with (owner) Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court. I enjoy being here,” Irving said. “I’m still trying to get through this season. Everybody is trying to antagonize this team and put it on me to ‘privately he wants out.’ I’m here for my teammates, I’m here for Coach (Mike) Brown and the coaching staff and I’m going to play my heart out every single night for the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

If you want to parse the words and say that’s not exactly the most ringing endorsement of his stay in Cleveland, go ahead. You might well be right — the team stinks and the organization has made a series of bad draft picks, I’d be more worried if he thought everything was great.

It doesn’t really matter. Irving isn’t going anywhere for a while because he wants to get paid.

As he noted, he is in his rookie deal and as of this summer the Cavaliers will offer him a max contract extension (which kicks in for his fifth season). He very well may have two All-Star Games under his belt meaning he will be eligible for a “Rose rule” max contract — in excess of $80 million over five years.

Every elite player takes the rookie deal extension and stays for a second contract. Not that the $7 million he is making next season has him hurting, but that first major contract after a rookie deal is “I can set my family up for generations” money. He would have to take the rookie scale deal for two more seasons (rather than one) to get out of Cleveland and risk injury or something else costing him that first massive payday. That’s not smart business.

LeBron James spent seven years in Cleveland before he left. Carmelo Anthony seven and a half in Denver. Chris Bosh seven in Toronto. Dwight Howard eight in Orlando. I could go on but you get the idea.

Is Irving unhappy being part of a team that is losing and where the front office has had a wealth of high draft picks who, beside Irving, have not panned out? I’d be more worried about him if he wasn’t. The organization is a mess. He should be unhappy.

That doesn’t mean he is leaving anytime soon.

  1. rtwoj - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    “And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time,”

    a long time could be a few more months….

    When a player starts talking in present tense: “I’m here now.” – “I play for the (insert team name) right now.” – “I’m in (insert city name) now.”

    Not good… Sounds a lot like things we’ve heard before. Doesnt sound good for Cav fans.

  2. kb2408 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Is “anyone” ever truly happy in Cleveland. Kyrie is gone as soon as he is an unrestricted free agent. Maybe Gilbert learned something from the LBJ debacle and will move him before he leaves for nothing. The writing’s clearly on the wall.

    • bougin89 - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      So…2019?

  3. deavn - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    When will the Cavs ever learn from their mistakes? First they messed up with Lebron. They didn’t put enough talent around him for them to seriously compete for a championship and now the same may happen with Kyrie. I don’t understand how you bomb on high draft picks. I’m not saying that TT was a bad pick but when you have a chance to get Klay or Kawhi, you have to take it. Same in 2012 with Ross, Drummond, Barnes, Lamb, Sully. And this past draft, I don’t even know what to say other than Grant must be smoking some good stuff for him to have taken Bennett. And then bring back Mike Brown. It’s more of the front office’s fault. But Everyone is to blame from Kyrie to Mike to Grant. I just hope if Kyrie leaves Gilbert doesn’t write another childish letter.

  4. cruzan80 - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Good as gone…..

  5. 00maltliquor - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Lol Kurt was right, you knew this was coming! But seriously, that really wasn’t a ringing endorsement of being with the Cavs. He didn’t put nothing to rest with those generic lines.

  6. cantonbound13 - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    He will be a Knick

  7. losangelesbillsofbuffalo - Jan 31, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    Funny, I said the same thing to my boss this morning at my performance review. Truth is, I’m looking around for a new job, been asking my friends to keep their eyes open, and am going to be happy when I get a different opportunity.

  8. billtetley53 - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    Well since 3 coiler kb2408 says he’s as good as gone, that means he’s sure to retire a Cav. This dope hadn’t predicted 1 thing right in the 2 1/2 years I’ve seen him post. You’re crystal ball is broken stink crevice. Just quit posting, you don’t have a clue.

  9. timberwolvesbrisin - Jan 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM

    He’s the most overrated player in the NBA. NOT worthy of being an all-star, that’s for sure.

    • ranfan12 - Jan 31, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      lmfao what. he’s averaged 20.5ppg with 46%fg and 5.6 assists his last 2 years. that’s pretty all star for point guards. that’s hardly overrated at all. he’s slightly sucking this year compared to those, but he’s not overrated. people were still saying cp3 and rondo were the best guards even when he got here

  10. hannsta - Jan 31, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    RFA = match the offer. He doesnt have much choice on this FA unless he forces his way out.

  11. jadaruler - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    I doubt Kyrie has Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” playing in his head coming to the gym. I would advise him not to opt out after next season and take the 1 year qualifying offer and bolt the team after that.

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