Kyrie Irving on playing with LeBron James: It will be a pleasure to learn from him
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — When it comes to the Cavaliers’ big offseason pickup, Kyrie Irving is no different than anybody.
"I have a great feeling," Irving said, wearing a sly smile.
Irving was speaking about the new Cavs, the Cavs of LeBron James, Part II.
"It’s an exciting time, I can tell you that," Irving said from his basketball camp at Independence High School on Saturday morning. "Everything is happening."
Obviously, a lot of that has to do with James — the four-time NBA MVP and two-time champion who’s returning to the Cavs after four years with the Miami Heat.
James announced his decision to be a Cavalier again via a first-person account for Sports illustrated. The entire world was seemingly 50-50 on where he would land until that very moment.
Irving indicated he was just as surprised, just as elated, as everyone else associated with the organization.
"I was excited," Irving said. "You have to empathize with the guy. I think we all felt his emotions with his essay. … I found out like everyone else found out."
The addition of James, of course, wasn’t the only big news for Irving this summer. He also made major news of his own, signing a five-year contract extension worth $90 million.
"I’m glad we got it done," Irving said. "A couple days later, a guy decided to come back to Cleveland. The rest is history. Now, we’ll let (general manager) David Griffin do his thing."
Irving met with Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert on July 1 in New Jersey at "an undisclosed location," quickly agreed to the deal, then signed it on July 10. The extension kicks in next summer.
"We wanted to make it as easy as possible," Irving said. "I wanted to show my commitment to them and they wanted to show their commitment to me. That’s what it was really about.
"They wanted me to be a part of their future, and I wanted to be a part of their future. It was a huge monkey off my back, with all the speculation and all the B.S. I was hearing. I’m just happy I got it out of the way."
What about Love?
Irving averaged 20.8 points and 6.1 assists last season, his third in the league. He was named All-Star Game MVP, too. Along with a new contract, a new full-time GM and a new superstar teammate, he also has a new coach in David Blatt.
Irving and Blatt talked basketball over lunch earlier this week in Las Vegas, home of the NBA summer league.
"He seems like a genuine person," Irving said of Blatt. "He cares about me becoming the best point guard I can be. Obviously, he’s wants the best from me. But he’ll also just let me be myself and just go out there and play."
On top of that, the Cavs landed another No. 1 overall draft pick in Andrew Wiggins, an athletic swingman with a major upside. He only adds to the Cavs’ high hopes. But Wiggins has been the subject of trade rumors — frequently mentioned as a potential trading chip to bring Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love to Cleveland.
Irving offered no thoughts on that particular topic.
"This whole free-agent period has been a whirlwind, so many rumors, so many guys with inside sources," Irving said. "Until it happens and I get a call from our GM … other than that, I haven’t considered it."
He added: "We’ll just have to wait and see. My focus is on getting better and getting ready for USA Basketball. We’ll see what David Griffin does. He’s proven to be a heck of a GM in a short period of time."
As Irving mentioned, his next stop is Team USA training camp, which tips off July 28 in Las Vegas. He is one of 19 players battling for a spot on the 12-man roster. Beyond that, it’s just a whole lot of being excited that LeBron James is on the team.
"It’s going to be a pleasure to learn from him," Irving said. "Right now, he’s focused on his family. It’s time to enjoy the offseason."