Kyrie Irving sent shock waves through the NBA, declaring a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason. It was an odd situation. No one was sure of why Irving wanted a trade in the first place. Some reports stated that Irving was growing tired of being in the shadow of LeBron James, and others said that Irving simply wanted to run his own team. Now that things have settled down a bit, it’s time to wonder if any of those reports were even true.
In fact, none of those reports had an ounce of truth in them. Kyrie Irving was traded not because he wanted to, but he was traded because of LeBron James and Dan Gilbert. Do you want to know more? Here are a few reasons and scenarios that paved the way for Dan Gilbert to ship his star point guard to the Boston Celtics.
Gilbert wanted an insurance policy
Dan Gilbert is probably one of the luckiest general managers in NBA history. In 2003, he the opportunity to select one of the greatest players of all time, and that was LeBron James. LeBron would make the 2007 NBA Finals, but his team got destroyed by the much more experienced San Antonio Spurs team. Three years later, LeBron James grew tired of coming up short to one of his biggest goals, and that was winning an NBA title. He left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat and won two titles. Of course, he came back to his hometown in 2014, even after Gilbert wrote a diatribe against LeBron James’ free agency decision in 2010.
Honestly, you can’t rule out the fact that Gilbert still held some animosity towards James even in his return. In fact, he probably had a suspicion that LeBron James would leave again when things got hard. After the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, who knows what was going on in LeBron’s head. Gilbert probably assumed that he was going to leave next summer anyway and began shopping Kyrie Irving as a rational insurance plan. Still, why would he trad Irving? Kyrie Irving is a star himself, and he could lead the Cavaliers to some type of success even if LeBron leaves this summer. The answer lies in the present the Celtics gave the Cavaliers. It was the first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. With that pick in this year’s coveted draft, the Cavaliers can easily rebuild or use the pick to trade for a superstar so they can compete next year. One thing is for certain, LeBron’s odyssey to the Heat left a sour taste in Gilbert’s mouth, and it led to the trade of Kyrie Irving.
LeBron James didn’t sign an extension
In 2016, LeBron James signed a 3 year $100 million deal with the Cavaliers. This deal came off an impressive championship run, in which the team defeated the Golden State Warriors. Of course, James has an opt out clause this summer, and he will obviously opt out. Whether he returns to the Cavaliers is still a mystery, and that’s not good. LeBron James is famous for his passive aggressive attitude. You never truly know what he’s going to do until it’s too late. James left the Cavaliers in an instant to join the Miami Heat in 2010. He shocked the world again by leaving the Heat to return to the Cavaliers. If you believe that LeBron James would just settle down in Cleveland and openly commit to them this time, you were wrong.
Sure. LeBron James loves it in Cleveland, but after winning the city a title, he may leave again. It’s incredible that a player of James’ caliber is making his own team worry about his long term commitment. James was eligible for a contract extension since 2016. He refused to negotiate any kind of contract extension with the Cavaliers, especially if it would have made him commit to the team long term. This probably worried Gilbert, who sought to trade Irving for pieces in case the King left again. After all, what’s a better way to leave a team in free agency. No, it’s not how Kevin Durant did in 2016. It’s in a television special titled, “The Decision”, in front of millions of NBA fans. As great as LeBron James is, he is no saint. He could leave at any time, and that’s scary for a general manager. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Dan Gilbert began shopping Kyrie Irving in the first place.
Luck doesn’t happen twice
Saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers were lucky in the 2011 NBA Draft is a definite understatement. The Cavaliers got two top five picks in the drat, selecting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. It was just what the Cavaliers needed at the moment. When LeBron James led the Cavaliers to their first title in 2016, Gilbert probably had doubts of whether he would stay after that. Rightfully so, Gilbert has been lucky up until that point. There was no way the Cavaliers would ever get two top five picks again, even if they tanked for the foreseeable future. If you look at the Philadelphia 76ers, you can see how hard it is to rebuild from the Draft. It takes time and patience, and Gilbert didn’t have that.
If LeBron James would have left, Kyrie Irving would have been traded anyway to notch a quick rebuilding effort. Still, the Cavaliers wouldn’t have had the talent to compete. That’s why Gilbert began shopping Irving. He never trusted James, and he knew that he would never get that type of luck in the Draft again. It was a smart move, now that we can look back on it.
Kyrie wanted to leave
Imagine this. You are drafted to a team after the superstar leaves. You become the leader and rise to stardom, then the superstar comes back. Your team wins the title, and the superstar gets all of the fame. The superstar doesn’t commit to the team, and you are being shopped to fill his void. Sounds familiar? That was the narrative of Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers were Irving’s team after LeBron James left. All of a sudden, he was being shopped when Gilbert wasn’t sure about James’ long term commitment. Kyrie Irving had to be infuriated.
Dan Gilbert took notice of Irving”s displeasure and had to trade him, and it was because of one problem. It was because of LeBron James. He refused to commit to the Cavaliers early in his career, and he failed to do it after he won a title for the team. Gilbert learned his lesson from what transpired eight years ago. He knew never to trust LeBron James, and it unfortunately came at the expense of Kyrie Irving.