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Report: Cavaliers will offer Kyrie Irving max contract extension

Jun 9, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

Will the Cavaliers give Kyrie Irving a max contract extension this summer?

One report says they might not.

I actually think that might be a wise move.

Nothing against Irving, who’s one of the NBA’s top young players. Teams just probably shouldn’t extend players coming off their rookie-scale deals to max contracts, period.

Mostly, it’s about getting more information. If Irving gets hurt again next year – he’s missed 15, 23 and 11 games in his three seasons – or stagnates, his value could plummet.

If he improves, the Cavaliers can offer the exact same contract next offseason as they could in the form of an extension this offseason. Why commit to the highest-possible salary sooner than you have to? At worst, you’re just going to give him the highest-possible salary next offseason, when Irving would become a restricted free agent and Cleveland could match any offers.

The Cavaliers would have no risk of losing him before 2016, and for him to leave that quickly would require him taking a one-year contract. If a five-year max contract is on the table, would Irving really turn that down to accept a one-year deal?

And if Irving accepts a five-year contract as a free agent in 2015 rather than a five-year extension in 2014, he wouldn’t count as a designated player. So if Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker – the Cavaliers’ top options with the No. 1 pick – is the rare player who’s worth extending to a max deal prior to his rookie contract ending, Cleveland could still do it.

Undoubtedly, there are benefits to give Irving a max extension. It keeps him happy – which could also serve as a negative if it makes him feel too entitled, but is probably a positive – and secures his standing on the team. John Wall became a much better team leader because of his max extension.

I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the cost – especially for a player with Irving’s injury history. The worst realistic-case scenario is him taking a four-year deal with a player option in 2015, and then you have three years to get him to come around and believe in the team (or trade him).

Anyway, the conventional choice is to give a max contract extension to anyone who would deserve a max contract after his third season – and Irving definitely qualifies on that front. So, though the Cavaliers should consider not offering Irving a max extension, that would be bucking precedent. Based on how every other team has handled this situation, Irving deserves a max extension.

And one report says he’ll get one.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

Reports about the Cavs even considering backing away from a maximum contract are simply wrong.

My sources tell me that the Cavs have had no doubts about offering Irving the 5-year deal, and will do so. Once July 1 arrives — the first date that an extension can be offered — the Cavs will set up a meeting with Irving. They will present their All-Star guard with a contract extension, a 5-year deal in the $90 million range (or whatever is the maximum number).

The term “max contract” has become a misnomer. Often, it’s doesn’t describe the absolute largest contract a player could sign.

A team signing a player to the highest possible salary over fewer years than the most allowed? “Max.”

A team signing a player to the top starting salary but less than the highest-possible raises? “Max.”

A team re-signing a player to the biggest contract another team could offer, but less than the re-signing team could offer? “Max.”

There are many other examples. Simply, you can’t read a report about a player’s max contract contract and have a full understanding of the picture without more context.

Using a crude estimate of the salary cap in 2015-16,* when Irving’s contract extension would begin, his absolute maximum salary for a five-year extension would be $109,106,328. He’d get that if he’s voted a starter in the 2015 All-Star Game – that vote should be fun! – or wins MVP next season.

Otherwise, his full max would be $90,921,940.

*$67,721,000 – which is based on the cap rising the same amount its projected to rise this year.

That’s why I’m not totally sold on Pluto’s report. It’s quite possible something got lost in translation between his source, him and readers.

Even if the Cavaliers are willing to give Irving a five-year extension, they might not want to give him the full amount he could earn if he meets the Derrick Rose rule criteria (for him, being elected an All-Star starter or winning MVP next year).

That $90.9 million figure is based on 25 percent of the salary cap. The $109.1 million is based on 30 percent of the salary cap.

The extension would be signed with a clause indicating he’d exceed 25 percent only if he qualified under the Rose rule. But if he qualifies, he doesn’t have to get the full 30 percent. He and the Cavaliers could negotiate any amount between 25 and 30 percent. The Pacers did that with Paul George, who got just 27 percent but a player option on the final year of his deal.

So, maybe the Cavaliers would offer Irving 25 percent ($90.9 million) and no escalator if he becomes Rose rule eligible. Or maybe they’ll offer less than the full 30 percent if he qualifies ($109.1 million).

Are those max contract? In the truest sense of the word, no. But they’d get described as max contracts.

Which is why I’m still in the dark about exactly what the Cavaliers are willing to offer Irving this summer.

  1. aboogy123456 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    I think it is smart for the cavaliers to offer the extension now rather than wait. There is a real concern that Kyrie doesn’t want to stay in Cleveland, so if he plays great next year and doesn’t get hurt, it could be less risky for him to play out his contract and leave the next year. If he gets offered the max now, then he can reduce his own injury and performance risk by signing now.

  2. loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    tough for Cleveland to have no real leverage on contracts. They almost have to beg their players to stay. Irving is not a max player BUT in Cleveland, he sure is. Hopefully, they can land a good coach, their #1 pick pans out, Bennett gets it together, and the rest mature..then maybe they have something.

    I’d consider a “hard reboot” on this franchise…change colors and maybe the nickname. just start clean…but hey, whatever…

    • rrhoe - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      I was with you right up to the last sentence……

      • loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        haha…yeah…a bit drastic but whatever ya can do to get rid of that perpetual grey cloud over the city!

    • loubearkane - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Old school , go back to the old school uni’s

    • bougin89 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      “tough for Cleveland to have no real leverage on contracts.”

      Seriously? They have all the leverage in contract talks with Kyrie.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        uhhh…yeah! Jokim Noah wasn’t kidding when he said Cleveland was a bad city. Yeah, they have no leverage…maybe to offer more money but Irving would still make plenty elsewhere. Cleveland is not an attractive destination for NBA players. I guess I’m baffled by your retort????

      • bougin89 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        You don’t understand.

        The Cavs have all the leverage in contract negotiations. Kyrie literally can’t walk. I’m not making any point about the city.

        Try naming one player who turned down their first true payday. What’s baffling is people think Kyrie is going to play for around 8ish million for one year and leave instead of a 5 year deal averaging 15-18 million a year.

        If it was up to him I bet he would leave but it’s not.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:42 PM

        okay. i see what you are saying. youre right. i guess i was making the point that if he didnt sign a contract and when he became a FA, he would leave…but him being restricted, sure, he cant leave.

      • bougin89 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:59 PM

        For what it’s worth if he was going to be an unrestricted free agent next year I bet he would leave.

  3. yesser12 - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Not a max player needs to step up his defense. Plays defense like he is old like Uncle Drew.

  4. rrhoe - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    To be honest,I would be shocked if he signed long term with Cleveland,I think he wants out. I know Cleveland can offer the most money but I believe we are entering the age of players taking less money to go where they want to play,as sad as that may be. Besides that I don’t think he’s worth a “Max” contract anyway,but I don’t think Eric Bledsoe is worth one either. But,with that being said Cleveland will probably give it to him/offer it to him because how else are they going to get him to stay.

    • bougin89 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM

      Except of course, he can’t just go anywhere else soon. He, like every other(going to be after next season) restricted free agent will take the max contract offered to him by the Cavs. He has virtually no leverage to leave and get a long term contract.

  5. tomtravis76 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Cleveland Cavaliers began NBA play in 1970, have 0 Larry’s and 1 eastern conference title, thanks to Lebron James.

    Why would Kyrie waste his career in Cleveland. The reigning best nba player had to leave Ohio to bank titles. Kyrie would be a fool to stay one second beyond his contractually obligated agreement. The franchise doesn’t win, records tell its story. Just about every NBA team with a pg need will offer kyrie a contract and a chance to win with other viable players.

    • bougin89 - Jun 9, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      In about 5 years that may be the case and he could very well sign elsewhere.

  6. aboogy123456 - Jun 9, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    IF Kyrie Irving is not open to the max contract and has informed the team that he will leave as soon as he can, then I would explore trading him for the Lakers 7th pick if Marcus Smart falls there. Marcus Smart is projected to be a great defender and teammate without durability issues, and getting a guy on a rookie deal means that they can have more money to spend and can very likely keep that player for 7 years. It might be a good move for both the cavs and lakers.

  7. campcouch - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:14 PM

    Until the player or GM or owner comes out with a statement,I try not to take any “report” concerning teams to heart. The information could be leaked by the candy machine vendor who overheard the janitor talking about it with the hot dog guy.

  8. realfootballfan - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    It’s the right move. While Cavalier fans will complain that he’s not worth it, who else are you spending the money on? No free agents are coming to Cleveland as evidenced when James was there. If you have a good player, you need to pay them and surround them with more good players. Now, if they can resist drafting that bust waiting to happen, the 7footer and pair Irving with one of the good wings coming in this draft, they might have something in a few more years if they can find a decent coach.

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