David Griffin has created a bit of a catch phrase ever since he took over running the Cavaliers: Players are either all the way bought in or they’re out.
In this case, Kyrie Irving has 90 million reasons to be all in with the Cavaliers.
After months of speculation and wild rumors regarding his future, Irving took less than two hours to agree to a contract extension early Tuesday morning, the first day players were allowed to discuss new contracts.
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.
It’s noteworthy that while many teams spent the first moments of free agency courting players from other teams, the Cavs viewed locking up Irving their top priority. Previous max extensions for John Wall and Paul George have taken weeks, even months, to complete. Irving’s was done almost instantly, and now the Cavs can get to work building up the talent around him.
Once he signs the deal, Irving will be under team control until at least the summer of 2020. Top pick Andrew Wiggins will also be under the team’s control for at least the next four years, giving the Cavs a pair of cornerstone blocks for the foreseeable future.
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 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.
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, starting with LeBron James. They have ample cap space – at least $11 million and perhaps upwards of $25 million. Irving’s extension doesn’t begin until the 2015-16 season, given them added flexibility this summer.
They’ve already shown interest in Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, the Houston Rockets’ Chandler Parsons, a pair of Washington Wizards in Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza and the Phoenix Suns’ Channing Frye.
The Cavs also have interest in retaining their own free agent, Spencer Hawes, but they have competition. Hawes is already drawing interest from across the league and one source with knowledge of his desires said Hawes would like to play on the West Coast, closer to his Seattle home. He has already spoken with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Cavs haven’t shown much interest yet in retaining C.J. Miles, who one league source confirmed has already drawn significant interest from the Indiana Pacers.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.