Cavaliers owner refuses to elaborate on Irving trade request
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is refusing to confirm that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has demanded a trade.
In his first public comments since Irving asked to be dealt, Gilbert said Wednesday that he’s aware of reports that the All-Star point guard wants out of Cleveland and that he’s recently met with Irving and his representatives, but wouldn’t divulge the nature of their meetings.
“These things are fluid,” Gilbert said. “We think that Kyrie Irving is one of the best guards in the NBA. He was part of a championship, three years straight to the Finals and we value his talent — significantly.”
Despite several direct questions about Irving’s status, Gilbert would not provide any specifics about recent conversations with him or his agent. Gilbert said he expected the 25-year-old, whose jumper in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals propelled Cleveland to its first championship since the Browns in 1964, to be at training camp with the team in September.
“Right now Kyrie Irving is under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two or three years, depending on the last year,” Gilbert said. “As of now he’s one of our best players and sure, we expect him to be in camp.”
Beyond its implications with the Cavs, Irving’s appeal to be traded appears to have damaged his relationship with LeBron James. The stars have taken swipes at each other with posts on social media, and it remains to be seen if they can patch things up.
New general manager Koby Altman dismissed any rift.
“I think a lot of it has been overblown,” he said. “I think the people who are in this building every day haven’t seen any of that animosity.”
James can opt out of his contract and hit the free-agent market next summer. For now, though, Gilbert and Altman said James is invested in the Cavaliers.
“LeBron remains deeply committed to this organization,” Altman said. “He remains deeply committed to this team and deeply committed to this city.”
Gilbert paused for a moment before addressing James’ future beyond 2017-18.
“That hunger is as strong as I’ve ever seen,” Gilbert said. “I think beyond this season I don’t know, we’re focused on this season.”