After months of speculation and wild rumors, the Cavs and Kyrie Irving took less than two hours to agree to a contract extension.
Irving will sign a five-year extension with the Cavaliers, owner Dan Gilbert tweeted out early Tuesday morning. Gilbert and Irving shook on the deal, which can’t become official until the league’s moratorium ends on July 10. A league source confirmed it will be a max contract worth about $90 million.
“I’m here for the long haul Cleveland!!!! And I’m ecstatic!!” Irving wrote on his twitter account shortly after the news broke. “Super excited and blessed to be here and apart of something special.”
Rumors have swirled for more than a year that Irving wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs, but that was squashed quickly. The Cavs’ contingent, including Gilbert, General Manager David Griffin and coach David Blatt, flew to meet with Irving the moment extension talks could begin. They had the deal completed in less than two hours.
No player coming off a rookie contract and presented with a max offer has ever turned it down – and neither did Irving.
The Cavs felt optimistic in recent days they could get something done quickly. While the relationship between Irving and the team has been tense at times during his first three seasons, team officials were encouraged by how Irving has embraced new coach David Blatt and how quickly he reached out to top overall pick Andrew Wiggins.
Team executives believe Irving will enjoy playing in Blatt’s offensive system after Irving never really connected with Mike Brown despite the former coach’s best efforts. Yahoo Sports reported Blatt and associate head coach Tyronn Lue’s conversations with Irving early Tuesday led to the quick agreement.
“They were incredibly impressive,” Irving’s agent, Jeff Wechsler, told Yahoo Sports. “That’s what helped sell Kyrie on taking this deal.”
Wechsler did not return a call from the Beacon Journal.
Blatt marks Irving’s third coach in as many seasons, but the new deal means he is under the team’s control until the summer of 2020. Add in the rookie contract for Andrew Wiggins, which will give the Cavs control of him for at least the next four years, and the Cavs have a pair of long-term building blocks in place regardless of what LeBron James decides in free agency.
Irving has appeared in two All-Star games during his first three years in the league, winning the All-Star MVP last season. He has career averages of 20.7 points and 5.8 assists, although his shooting percentages have declined in each of his first three seasons.
Getting something done this quickly will allow Irving to relax and enjoy his Team USA commitments this summer. Irving will compete on the FIBA World Cup team, which first gathers in Las Vegas for a training camp on July 28. The World Cup (previously known as the World Championship) will be held the first two weeks of September in Spain.
Now the Cavs will turn their attention to other free agents. The Cavs have ample cap space to pursue free agents, particularly since Irving’s extension doesn’t kick in until the 2015-16 season, and remain high on Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward.
Hayward, however, is a restricted free agent and could be tough to pry away. The Cavs are also contemplating a run at a pair of unrestricted free agents from the Washington Wizards: center Marcin Gortat and small forward Trevor Ariza.
They also have their own free agents in C.J. Miles and Spencer Hawes, whom Yahoo reported met with the Portland Trail Blazers during the early hours of free agency on Tuesday.
The Cavs are interested in retaining Hawes, but he could be in demand. One source with knowledge of Hawes’ wishes said last season he’s inclined to play on the West Coast, closer to his Seattle home. The Blazers certainly qualify.