Cavs owner Dan Gilbert addressed the media before Wednesday's season opener against the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Gilbert was asked how he feels about the Cavs' chances of keeping All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving long term. The Cavs have picked up his option for next season. The earliest Irving can be a free agent is the 2016-17 season.
"We don’t even frankly discuss that yet, it’s still a little bit early," Gilbert said. "We feel good about Kyrie being here for his entire career. We think we set up an environment and a culture that’s conducive to him being not only an All-Star, but the leader of a championship-contending team. We’ll keep going until we get to that point, whether it’s this year or next year or whenever that may be."
Gilbert is also encouraged about that prospect because of the way new coach Mike Brown and Irving hit it off this summer.
"We have a good relationship with him," Gilbert said of Irving. "The head coach, him and Mike Brown really kicked it off this summer; they really jelled. I’m looking forward to it."
Asked if Irving is ready for the leadership role, Gilbert said, "I think there’s been a lot of growth in Kyrie, even over the summer in talking to Chris, I spent some time with him, just talking to him and hearing people around him, it seems that way.
"He’s still very, very young. Believe it or not, Kyrie Irving is 21 years old. It’s hard to imagine all these guys are just 21. The age of our team compared to where we could be this year is really encouraging. When you look at how young these guys and the core that’s built."
In an anonymous poll of general managers by NBA.com, Irving came in third as the player they would most like to start a franchise with.
"When you have experts give that kind of confidence, it makes you feel really good," Gilbert said. "He’s a special player. I don’t even think we’ve seen near the upside where Kyrie Irving could be. I think Mike Brown is going to really be helpful to him.
"Mike and him working together, that head coach, your leader-superstar relationship is absolutely critical in building a championship NBA team. I think seeing Kyrie on the other side of the floor excel to add to his offensive skills is going to be critical for that kind of thing to happen, or to be at least categorized as a player you want to build a franchise around.
"We feel very fortunate and we’re lucky the lottery ball feel a couple years ago. A very, very critical part of our franchise evolution."