Kyrie Irving is a man of remarkable talent. His handles are nonpareil and his ability to finish at the rim around, amongst, under, and betwixt defenders is breathtaking in the most literal sense. He’s part yo-yo champ, part contortionist, an offensive whiz kid who plays three-card Monte with a basketball. He also might be crazy because he’s decided he’s sick of playing with LeBron James. Irving is making a huge mistake in this sense and it could cost him big-time. Here are reasons why Irving could set his career back if he does in fact leave Cleveland.
He will miss out on a guaranteed trip to the Finals
The Eastern Conference has proven to be a very weak conference the past few years, as no team has been able to match up to Cleveland. With Irving on the team, it gives them essentially an automatic trip to the Finals for one more season, even with the Boston Celtics’ addition of Gordon Hayward. It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to pass on that. Scottie Pippen was always the second best player on the 1990’s Chicago Bulls, but he didn’t care because he was getting to the Finals and winning titles. If Irving leaves, he won’t get the opportunity to win another championship unless he goes to a team that is considered a contender up-front.
Score-first point guards don’t tend to win championships
Many players who are score-first point guards have had a difficult time enjoying playoff success, or even reaching the postseason. Stephon Marbury was the first case of this. He failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs five times throughout his career. Another example of this is also Steve Francis, who only reached the playoffs once in his career, and the year he made it in 2004, his production declined – averaging 21 points to 16 per game due to the offense being focused on center Yao Ming.
When Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant got injured in 2014-2015, Russell Westbrook – who at the time first took on the score-first approach – became the focal point of the offense and missed the playoffs entirely. Basically, the point is that a point guard that has a score first mentality, who is also the focal point, doesn’t always translate to winning when it matters. If Kyrie Irving goes to a franchise such as the Knicks or any team where he would be the best player, he most likely won’t see the playoffs for quite sometime.
The Cavaliers have full control of his contract
Irving signed a five-year, 90 million dollar deal in 2014 to stay in Cleveland for the long-haul. Irving still has two-years left on his contract, however if Irving does get traded he won’t be able to control where he goes. In all likelihood, the Cavaliers trade Irving to a team that gives them the best value in return, which could be to someone like Phoenix or Denver that has viable assets to swap. Also, since Irving doesn’t uphold a no-trade clause – which is the luxury to be able to get permission or veto a trade if he wishes. Irving has no say to where he will go. Owner Dan Gilbert has that power. That makes a big difference in where Cleveland decides to send him to.
If traded to a title contender, Irving loses his star role
Irving is terrific of course, but LeBron James runs Cleveland’s throne. James tilts the skill over anything and all that Cleveland wants and desires. If Irving gets traded to San Antonio, he’s going to play in the shadows of Kawhi Leonard for the forseeable future. If he gets traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, he then plays back-up to Karl-Anthony Towns and now Jimmy Butler. If he gets sent to New Orleans, well you know where this is going. Basically, wherever Irving goes to, Irving suddenly surrenders his primary role to becoming a secondary star on a playoff contending team – and that’s not what Irving wanted in the first place.
In hindsight, Irving doesn’t realize he is already a focal point in Cleveland’s offense. Let’s not forget, Irving led the Cavaliers in shot attempts per game at 19.7 shots. He also averaged 25.2 points per game. Irving receives a lot of the credit for Cleveland’s three consecutive Finals runs, and for good reason. He’s become the focal point at the end of critical games and has found a knack for closing games out. What more does Cleveland and Irving want?
The bottom line through all of this is that if Cleveland decides to trade Irving, then Irving will be faced with more than just challenges on a new team. He will face challenges involving himself and his legacy for years to come.