Rumors have swirled around Kyrie Irving early this offseason, and even yesterday there were reports that Cleveland might look to deal him depending on Irving’s reaction to the Cavs’ extension offer. Last night, we got a definitive answer about the point guard’s future.
After a meeting at his home with owner Dan Gilbert, General Manager David Griffin, and new head coach David Blatt, Irving agreed to sign a five-year, $90 million extension to remain in Cleveland when he is eligible to do so on July 10. Gilbert sent out the following tweet immediately following the meeting last night:
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 1, 2014
That $90 million figure is the maximum allowed under the CBA, and reflects the outstanding start to Irving’s career. He has averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game over his first three seasons in the NBA, making the All-Star team in each of the last two years after winning Rookie of the Year during his first season. The only blemish on Irving’s résumé is the team’s performance during his tenure; the Cavaliers have a cumulative 78-152 record with Irving, and have never come close to making the playoffs.
Financially, signing the extension was the best decision Irving could have made. Had he turned the offer down, he would have had to play out the final two years of his rookie deal before hitting unrestricted free agency. This way, he gets paid quicker and gets the type of long-term commitment from the team that most players dream of.
Irving is a cornerstone around which the Cavaliers plan to build. They think they’ve added another already this summer by selecting Andrew Wiggins No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, and with ample cap room still have plenty of options to explore to fill out their roster. The timing of this move makes a ton of sense, as locking up Irving now makes Cleveland a much more attractive destination for free agents. With both Irving and Wiggins guaranteed to be there for at least five years, a veteran star (LeBron James, perhaps?) will have two very young players at his side to help ease the burden as he gets older.
Irving, clearly, is quite excited about staying as well. He posted this last night shortly after the meeting with Gilbert and Co.:
I’m here for the long haul Cleveland!!! and I’m ecstatic!! Super excited and blessed to be here and apart of something special.#ClevelandKID
— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 1, 2014
The Cavaliers are now ready to get aggressive in free agency, looking to find players who fit both with Irving’s skillset and Blatt’s system. With about $12 million in cap space and a long-term commitment from their star player, they will not be lacking for options when choosing which route will help get them back into the playoffs.
Follow me on Twitter @dcsibor