An expansive, thorough new story on the Kyrie Irving trade details the Celtics guard’s turbulent final months with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving himself also denies that he had any involvement in his move to Boston.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan spoke in great detail to Irving for the story about the shocking Aug. 22 trade. Fans and reporters nationwide speculated what led to the deal, which sent him from the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Cavs to the team they’d recently beaten, the Celtics.
Many of the story’s most telling comments indicate that Irving felt unwanted in Cleveland. Mainly when Irving plainly told MacMullan, “They didn’t want me there.” His ex-teammates used words like “marginalized” to describe his personal feelings, as well as “disconnected” to describe his behavior.
Irving also, according to his teammates, saw LeBron James’ comments like “the kid” and “little brother” to describe him as a “subtle lack of respect.” But on the other hand, he also said he “didn’t lose any sleep” over that.
Kyrie Irving Trade: The Buildup
The story also details a confrontation between Irving and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue last season. Here’s how that went, according to the report:
Lue: “Ky, I want you to play a little faster.”
Lue: “Because if we play faster, we get shots off easier.”
Irving: “I don’t need to play faster to get my shot off. I can do that anytime.”
Lue: “I’m not talking about your shot. I’m talking about [Richard Jefferson] and [J.R. Smith].”
Irving: “Well, that’s No. 23’s job.”
And Lue reportedly responded to that by walking away shaking his head. The issue was apparently never resolved.
Irving admitted that he could have handled that conversation with Lue better. But on the contrary, he also wishes the issues with the team didn’t fester like they did.
“At that time, we had probably lost a few [games],” Irving said. “[Lue] is coming up to me and saying, ‘We’ve got to play faster,’ and I probably wasn’t willing to accept it at the time. So maybe I’d like a do-over on that.
“But those conversations go on every day in the NBA. In this case, instead of those things being addressed so you can move forward, it gets held on to, and it becomes a big thing. I was trying to figure out where I fit in and at the same time asking myself, ‘What’s best for the team?’ Sometimes, I didn’t know the answer. I had to figure it out on my own. It wasn’t like I was getting answers from everyone else.”
Kyrie Irving Trade: Who Made It Happen?
Many theories emerged as to who or what caused the Cavs to ultimately trade Irving to the Celtics. Did he want to get away from LeBron? Did LeBron want Irving gone? What did the Cavs really want?
The story also hints at the role Irving’s father, Drederick Irving, played in the deal. Some ex-teammates blamed Kyrie’s dad for “planting seeds of discontent” in his son’s mind. Perhaps that’s what convinced Kyrie that LeBron had orchestrated a near-trade that would’ve sent him to the Suns.
This confluence of issues obviously played a role in Irving’s desire to leave Cleveland. But as the story revealed, the Cavs had already tried to trade him before he even asked.
That’s why Irving says the public view of the trade is “distorted.”
“There’s a misconception how all this went down,” said Irving. “I was traded to Boston. I had no say at all in where they sent me. There were no conversations like, ‘OK, this is an opportunity we can pursue.’ It wasn’t a recruitment process.”
Although both Irving and his teammates insist that it wasn’t “all about LeBron,” it’s clear now that “King James” at least played a minor role in Irving’s departure. At the same time, the guard also felt undesired in general. One of the story’s final sections details comments from Irving’s new teammates in Boston, who paint a very different picture. A picture of a leader, a happier player. A player who feels wanted.
None of the details in the article really qualify as “bombshells” when it comes to the Kyrie Irving trade. But they certainly add context and enliven an already fascinating story of inner turmoil on one of the NBA’s elite teams.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.