The big plot twist of this NBA offseason was Kyrie Irving’s reported trade request from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Apparently, he wants to move on from Cleveland, LeBron James, and lead his own team as the focal point.
Irving, 25, was selected no. 1 overall by the Cavs in 2011. His young career has been a hectic journey. He played for three different coaches (Byron Scott, Mike Brown, David Blatt) before current head coach Tyronn Lue.
The Cavaliers were basically rescued by LeBron James when he decided to return in 2014. Cleveland won 33 games the season prior.
Just like that, Cleveland became a contender under the championship spotlight.
And just like that, Golden State rose up like a mighty thorn in the West.
Which leads me to my big picture question with Irving.
All that’s being talked about is the dynamics of Kyrie and LeBron — isn’t it possible that the Warriors have just as much to do with his reported desire to move on?
Going to the NBA Finals for three straight seasons is a taxing feat. Add in the magnitude of having to face the same team all three times — the first time that’s ever happened — and not just any team, but one of the most dynamic teams ever assembled.
When healthy, Cleveland bested Golden State in their second meeting, but it took a historic effort of clawing back from a 3-1 deficit.
The third installment of Warriors/Cavs was completely lopsided. The Cavaliers were nearly swept, and thus, the Cavaliers find themselves back in the trenches. And they’re no more prepared to face the Warriors than they were this past June.
If you’re Irving, the notably quiet offseason for the Cavs (Derrick Rose and Jeff Green as the only key acquisitions) in addition to losing trusted GM David Griffin has to be discouraging. Not to mention the increasing noise about LeBron possibly leaving again next summer.
Add that to the fact that the Warriors actually found ways to get better, and you might better understand Irving’s alleged outlook.
I’m not saying that Kyrie is trying to run from the Warriors. After all, the Warriors will still be there no matter what team he’s on.
I do think it’s possible that the spoils of war over the last three years could have taken a particular toll. Maybe after losing the way they did, and after everything he’s been able to experience in a short time, Kyrie just wants to pursue his own fresh start away from Cleveland. Away from LeBron. Away from this immortal back-and-forth between two Goliaths.
To me, that would better explain his reasoning for wanting to leave the Cavs and LeBron, a confusing logic because he’s playing with one of the greatest players of all time and is practically guaranteed a spot in the NBA Finals in doing so.
Maybe it’s bigger than just LeBron. Maybe Kyrie does desire to start a new chapter with a new franchise. If that’s truly so, then I can’t help but consider the impact of the Warriors on his state of mind.