ORLANDO, FLA.: Kyrie Irving could have some financial incentive to be voted a starter on the All-Star team. Given the early voting returns, he’s well on his way.
Irving is second in voting among Eastern Conference guards in results released this week. His 365,712 votes nearly equal the 445,730 he received all of last season. The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose is third in voting but is out for the rest of the season, and presumably his votes will slow over the next month. That leaves the Washington Wizards’ John Wall as Irving’s closest competition, and Wall only had 124,581 votes as of Thursday’s announcement.
Irving was named to the All-Star team last season as an injury replacement. Now he’s trying to get there on his own.
“It’d mean a lot if it happens,” Irving said Friday. “It’s a credit to a lot of hard work this summer coming into the season, but until they name the starters, I’ll continue to work for my teammates.”
If Irving is voted an All-Star starter this season and next, he’ll be eligible to receive 30 percent of the salary cap in his next contract rather than the standard 25 percent. It’s what is known as the “Derrick Rose exception” in the new collective bargaining agreement, and it could mean the difference of an additional $15 million or so during the life of a max contract.
In order to qualify for the Rose exception, players within their first four years in the league must either be named to an All-NBA team twice, win the league’s MVP award once or twice be voted a starter in the All-Star Game.
“It’s great. He’s a developing superstar,” coach Mike Brown said. “It’s part of his growth process to be able to experience stuff like that. It’s great to be an All-Star. It’s better to be an All-Star if you can really help your team continue to grow and propel into a winning organization and I think that’s the direction that he’s headed.”
Irving’s popularity nationally certainly has been helped by the “Uncle Drew” character he created for his hit Pepsi Max commercials, but he didn’t think the character had much of an impact on voting.
“This is my job out here,” Irving said. “Uncle Drew wasn’t anything that was part of my job, I just kind of did it on my own. Just part of my branding team working hard. You have to perform on the court.”
All-Star voting concludes Jan. 20. The starters will be announced Jan. 23.
The Cavs are not interested in acquiring Omer Asik from the Houston Rockets, a league source said Friday. The Rockets are expected to trade their disgruntled backup center next week, and the Cavs’ Anderson Varejao has been mentioned as a possible trade chip.
The Cavs, however, are not interested in Asik, who is due to make $14.9 million next season. They could, however, get involved in talks if the Rockets need a third team to move Asik. It’s unclear at this point what the Cavs would be asking.
All season, the Orlando Magic are celebrating their 25th year of existence. As part of the festivities, they’re honoring all former players on different teams as they pass through. That means Earl Clark received his own highlight video during the first quarter Friday night.
Clark spent parts of two seasons with the Magic and was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers. Clark, who is 25, couldn’t remember the last time he had a tribute video dedicated exclusively to him.
“Probably in college,” he said. “I’m still kind of young.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.