I do my best to avoid Twitterdrama at all costs. If I went around trying to debunk/verify every crazy rumor involving the Cavs that ever popped up on Twitter, I'd never see my kids (and I don't see them enough as it is).
But Kyrie Irving's Twitter response this morning to a New York-based rumor that he wants out of Cleveland has forced me to address it.
Here's the backstory:
.@BrandonTierney "I've heard from someone in the know... Kyrie Irving not long for Cleveland"— TBD in the AM (@TBDintheAM) July 18, 2013
I wish I knew "someone in the know" for all my facts, maybe I would go into journalism as well!!— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 18, 2013
Rumors are rumors— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 18, 2013
All I will add to this is the same thing I've said for months: This is a huge season for the Cavaliers. Huge. Forget about trying to bring LeBron James back, the Cavs have to prove to Irving they're serious about winning.
Before the Cavs can worry about luring another star here, they have to keep their own. They can offer Irving a max contract next summer for five years and about $80 million. That's been the plan all along. They will offer him a max deal. And if he or his agent try to negotiate an opt-out after three years ... well ... things could get interesting. Dan Gilbert has said both privately and publicly he won't allow the organization to fall into the situation it did once before with James and I wouldn't rule anything out at that point.
But all of that is still a year away, and the Cavaliers still control Irving's rights for three more years.
Under the rookie contract scale, no player coming off his rookie deal has ever turned down a max extension from the team that drafted him. I can't see Irving being the first.
That said, the Cavaliers haven't given him many reasons to want to stay here. The team has been awful, by design, his first two years. They are serious about winning this year, in part because Irving can be extended next summer and the Cavs need to show him they're serious about building a winner.
Irving's attitude changed after the All-Star break last season. Everyone saw it, including people within the organization. He sulked and pouted. He distanced himself from Byron Scott and he wasn't a very good leader.
Irving showed a hint of contrition to me on the final day of the regular season, when he talked about getting better defensively this summer and understanding that this upcoming season is huge for his development. This is the season that will define if Irving becomes Chris Paul or Brandon Jennings.
Paul made the playoffs for the first time in his third season. Same with LeBron. Irving is well aware of that.
I've said it before and I'll repeat it now: If James' final year in Cleveland was the most important in franchise history, this upcoming season isn't far behind.