“Well, I think Kyrie’s going to end up getting traded.”
Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin is no longer in Cleveland’s front office, where he spent seven years and three Finals appearances and the franchise’s only championship, but he spoke with credence about Irving’s future Monday on ESPN’s The Jump. Griffin vouched for the point guard’s decision to ask for a trade, saying Kyrie “just wanted to put himself in a position where he could find out exactly what he has as a 25-year-old entering his prime.”
What Irving has now is three years’ worth of suiting up next to the best player in the world. Kyrie’s ask has been painted as foolish (Who would ditch LeBron?) and overconfident (Does he think he can lead a team on his own?), but Griffin disagreed, and then teetered toward the whiteboard.
“[Kyrie’s] list included really good coaching situations,” Griffin said. “Brad Stevens and [Gregg] Popovich.”
I’m not saying this is a shot at Tyronn Lue, whom Griffin promoted during his time as GM from assistant to head coach. But the phrasing is questionable, and the rationale at least partially untrue: Boston wasn’t even on Irving’s reported “wish list” of teams, which featured Miami, San Antonio, New York, and Minnesota (Though Griffin could be confusing Stevens with Erik Spoelstra; those guys are arguably the two current NBA coaches most likely to be cast as brothers on a sitcom.) Maybe he has some insight about Kyrie also eyeing the Celtics (Griffin did bring up Gordon Hayward afterward).
“[Irving] is a guy who recruited LeBron, Hayward and a host of other free agents, and all of a sudden LeBron came back, so he was sold a totally different situation than he’s actually in.”
Either way, Griffin is right — a talented coach is another valid reason to leave a team for someone approaching his prime — but isn’t just bringing that up insinuating that Lue is not?
Or maybe he’s just commenting on the instability surrounding the franchise. Griffin himself saw a disloyal side to the organization more than once, with Gilbert first refusing to grant him an extension after the 2016 title season, and ultimately departing the Cavs just hours after he was reportedly working on trades for the team. On the show Monday, he said that “most guys don’t have the courage to do what [Kyrie] did” — to approach owner Dan Gilbert directly, rather than to “sink the ship from within.”
But that ship was ill patched all of last season season, and the Cavs failed to attract any major players in this summer’s free-agency period, when good coaching sells.