Tomorrow, the Cleveland Cavaliers will conclude a very trying season. On Thursday, the wine and gold will embark on an off-season which be as important as the one since LeBron James left as a free agent in 2010.
The franchise is at a proverbial crossroads for sure, and most of it centers on the team’s best player, Kyrie Irving.
Irving was the first overall pick after the first season without James, arriving after Cleveland suffered through a horrible season.
Unfortunately, they still haven’t made the playoffs with Irving in a Cavs’ uniform and this year, with the young players who the organization has accumulated with a slew of high draft choices supposed to be coming into their own, instead with a loss in the season finale tomorrow night will have a 50 loss season once again.
Is this all on Irving? Of course not, the Cavs waited until this season to appear to want to start winning, and didn’t bring in any quality veteran players to help the now 22-year-old learn the ways of the NBA from dealing Ramon Sessions to getting Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes this season.
They also didn’t hire a head coach with a track record of developing young players either. It is galling that young players like Sergey Karasev and newly acquired Scotty Hopson didn’t get a minute in the past two games, both played after Cleveland was eliminated from the playoffs.
However, you have to wonder about Irving, who seems to not have the ultra-competitive gene. He seems content to get his numbers while his team loses night after night.
That’s not good.
It reminds of Vince Carter, who while in Toronto complained that the team didn’t get better. As the Raptors’ best player, it was his responsibility to make the team better. He didn’t want any part of that.
If that is Irving’s attitude, not only should the Cavs trade the two-time All-Star, they need to do it this summer, and move on.
That’s why this is such a key summer for Dan Gilbert, and whoever will be in the team’s front office, whether it be a president of basketball operations and/or general manager.
They have to make the determination as to whether or not Irving wants to be the best player on a championship team, or if he would like to be famous and make commercials and get endorsements.
And they have to figure out if Irving will do whatever is necessary to be that type of player. Will he play better defense, will he share the basketball, will he take responsibility when the team loses?
Those are the things leaders do for their teams, plus they make all of their teammates better players.
If the Cavs determine Irving can be that type of player, then they should keep him here with a maximum contract extension. He’s that talented of a player.
If he can’t do that for the organization, then they should deal him while he still has a tremendous amount of value around the NBA. The ransom the wine and gold could get for a young player of his caliber would be enormous.
However, another year like this one, and the whispers will start as to whether or not he’s another guy with tremendous skills, but doesn’t play a team game.
There is no question the Cavs have some talented players on the roster. If their supposed best player can’t play with them and raise all of their games, then the franchise will be forced to make a very tough decision, at least from the outside looking in.
From the inside looking out, it would be a smart decision because the losing needs to end right now. Kyrie Irving has to decide if he wants to be part of the solution, starting right after tomorrow’s game.