Kyrie Irving’s displeasure apparently extends back to last season.
While it was reasonable to wonder whether Irving’s desire to be traded by the Cavaliers stemmed from trade rumors — or whatever else — that emerged earlier this summer after Cleveland lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin just gave reason to believe the All-Star point guard actually wanted out sooner than that.
McMenamin, speaking recently on the “BBall Breakdown” podcast, was asked whether the Phoenix Suns should be considered a potential landing spot for Irving if the Cavaliers trade their disgruntled star. His response suggests Irving had issues in Cleveland even while the Cavs were chasing their second straight NBA title.
“I’m not sure. Phoenix, of course, hired (former Cavalier) James Jones this offseason,” McMenamin said, as transcribed by CBSSports.com. “He’s been inside that locker room. He saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year — in between the first round when they beat Indiana and the second round when they played Toronto — go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice. On that stage.
“It’s one thing for people to go through your ups and downs during the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers, and we’re pulling together to get this thing done. Even at that level, there were things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates.”
The Cavs still had an impressive playoff stretch before running into a buzzsaw in the NBA Finals, but perhaps they would have been better equipped to put up a fight against the Warriors if Irving’s mind was in a good place rather than elsewhere, as McMenamin seems to suggest.
In any event, it feels like a trade involving Irving is inevitable, or else things could turn really ugly in Cleveland’s locker room this season … not that the Boston Celtics would mind.
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images