Irving inks contract extension with Cavs
Kyrie Irving signed his contract. The Cavaliers now hope LeBron James will accept one from them.
As they await a decision from James, the free agent whose delay in choosing where he’ll play next has the NBA at a virtual standstill, the Cavaliers announced that Irving has signed his five-year, $90 million extension.
The Cavs reached an agreement with Irving on the deal last week in the first hours after free agency opened. The deal couldn’t be announced until Thursday, when the league’s moratorium ended.
Irving is now under contract with Cleveland through the 2019-20 season.
“We are excited that Kyrie has officially committed to be here long-term with the Cleveland Cavaliers,” owner Dan Gilbert said in a release. “The future has never been brighter as we are building the team and franchise for sustainable success. Kyrie is obviously a very big piece of our plan.”
Irving averaged 20.8 points, 6.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 71 games last season, his third with Cleveland. The former No. 1 overall pick was also voted MVP of the NBA’s All-Star game.
Gilbert made Irving the club’s top offseason priority. The Cavs hoped in locking up Irving with a long-term deal it would make them more appealing to James, who is deciding whether to re-sign with Miami or return to Cleveland.
Chosen first in 2011, one season after James left, Irving has averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 steals in 181 games. He’s been somewhat injury prone, but the 22-year-old played in 71 games last season.
The one thing missing from Irving’s pro resume is a playoff appearance, but the Cavs believe with a young nucleus of players — and maybe James — Cleveland can contend again in the Eastern Conference.
Before he committed to the Cavs on the extension, Irving had sent out mixed signals last season about his desire to stay in Cleveland. But he’s been fully engaged in their plans and has reportedly made his own personal pitch to bring James back.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Kyrie firmly at the core of our Cavaliers team and family for years to come,” general manager David Griffin said. “He’s already proven he’s among the best in the NBA and we’re excited to watch his continued growth and success. To know that he is all in and shares our high expectations and championship goals is something we’re extremely proud of.
“It is a clear reflection of how we all view our future together, with Kyrie fully vested in this franchise and the city of Cleveland.”
Cavs’ 3-way trade official, waiting on James
The three-team trade that gave the Cavaliers salary cap space to possibly land James is official. The Cavs and Boston Celtics confirmed the deal on Thursday when the NBA moratorium on signings ended.
Cleveland sent guard Jarrett Jack and swingman Sergey Karasev to Brooklyn and center Tyler Zeller and a first-round draft pick to Boston. Cleveland acquired a future conditional second-round pick from the Celtics and the draft rights to forwards Ilkan Karaman and Edin Bavcic from the Nets. The Celtics will get guard Marcus Thornton — and his expiring $8 million contract — from the Nets.
The deal, first reported on Wednesday, is designed to give the Cavs enough room under the salary cap to offer James, the four-time league MVP, a maximum contract ($20.7 million).
James, who met in Las Vegas with Miami president Pat Riley, has not announced where he will play next season. He is scheduled to attend the World Cup final in Brazil this weekend.
Jack, who signed with Cleveland as a free agent last season, was scheduled to make $6.3 million, Zeller will make $1.6 million and Karasev $1.4 million.
In trading those salaries, the Cavs have enough to give James the max deal — if he decides to sign with Cleveland. James played seven seasons with the Cavs before leaving as a free agent in 2010.