CLEVELAND: Kyrie Irving gave away his jersey and shoes as part of Fan Appreciation Night on Wednesday, then returned to the court with more shoes to throw into the stands before disappearing down the tunnel and into the Cavaliers locker room.
Whether or not it was his final game in a Cavs jersey will be determined in the coming weeks since a fascinating Cavaliers offseason officially began following Wednesday’s 114-85 victory against the Brooklyn Nets.
Irving’s future will be the focal point.
He again stopped short of saying he’d sign an extension, but came closer than ever when asked his thoughts on a max contract this summer.
“It’s a big deal for me and my family if they do offer me that,” Irving said. “It would be exciting and I’ll make the best decision for me and my family. That’s what it’s going to boil down to for myself.
“I’ve been a part of this and I want to continue to be part of this.”
The Cavaliers can’t officially offer the extension until July, but will most likely know his feelings long before then. Irving has faced more criticism this season than his first two seasons combined, yet still managed to win the All-Star MVP and position himself for a rare “Rose Rule” extension that could entitle him to 30 percent of the salary cap.
“We’re making strides in the right direction,” Irving said. “I want to be part of something special. … I don’t have a definitive answer to that right now, but it would be something special.”
Irving had 15 points and five assists Wednesday against a stripped-down Brooklyn Nets team that rested all of their starters and played only seven guys while preparing for the playoffs.
Tyler Zeller scored 22 points (one shy of his career high) and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dion Waiters scored 19 points and Tristan Thompson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
For all that the Cavaliers endured this season, Mike Brown didn’t want the final impression of this team to be the way they gave up over the last week after they were officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Brown wanted this team to “play the right way,” which they did in equaling their most lopsided victory of the season.
Now the first decision of the offseason will be determining the fates of Brown and acting General Manager David Griffin. Team owner Dan Gilbert was not at Wednesday’s finale because he’s attending the league’s Board of Governors meetings in New York. A decision on the fate of Brown and Griffin isn’t expected for at least a few days, if not longer. Brown has never been one to campaign the owner for a job and he isn’t about to start now.
“I’m thankful for Dan and the opportunity he has given me and my family,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t be sitting in this seat without him. It’s his team. Whatever decision he makes with anything, I’m going to support him.”
Brown is in the first year of a five-year contract that will pay him $20 million. When he re-hired Brown last summer, Gilbert called firing him the first time in 2010 a mistake.
Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix both returned from lengthy injuries to play in the finale. Bennett had seven points and seven rebounds after missing the last 17 games with a knee injury, while Felix missed the last 37 games following a stress fracture in his left knee.
Felix’s rookie season was wrecked with injuries since he also battled a sports hernia, but he had a career-high 10 points after playing most of the fourth quarter Wednesday.
Luol Deng and C.J. Miles again missed the game with injuries, while Anderson Varejao didn’t play, either. Brown told him shortly before tip-off he had the night off.
The Cavs avoided another 50-loss season with Wednesday’s victory. They finish the season 33-49 and finish with the league’s ninth-worst record. That means they’ll enter next month’s draft lottery with a 1.7 percent chance at the No. 1 pick.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.