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It is uncommon for the NBA to make headlines in August, but that is exactly what happened as the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving. Curious fans have wondered if there was more to Kyrie Irving’s trade demands than his desire to be a focal point of a team.
Irving’s trade signals to many that there is more going on in Cleveland than just a mutual breakup. The off-season has not been kind to the Cavs, things started to go south after former GM David Griffin abruptly stepped down. From there, the narrative has fluctuated from LeBron James free agency rumors to Irving’s trade demands.
It is not the trade itself that makes James more or less likely to remain in Cleveland past this season. What is more curious is Irving’s demands in the first place given the Cavs had a title contending team.
It seems suspicious Irving would want to leave all that just because he wanted to be the top offensive option, especially given Irving averaged over 25 points a game last season.
NBA writer Chris Sheridan recently reported James will not be in Cleveland after this season. Sheridan tweeted the following quote from a source:
“This will be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair,” Sheridan tweeted.
It’s not just Sheridan. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported in June that the buzz in NBA circles is James wants to play in Los Angeles.
“Multiple league sources I’ve spoken to think the Lakers or Clippers are viable destinations for King James,” O’Connor wrote.
Amidst the Los Angeles rumors getting louder, James did not exactly squash the buzz after sitting courtside at one of the Lakers summer league games featuring Lonzo Ball.
Fans can choose to take the Irving trade at face value. The Cavs got a good return for a disgruntled player, including the Nets pick that could end up being the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, it is challenging not to read into things.
My thoughts are a player that is one of the most valuable members on a franchise competing for championships does not just leave because he wants his own team. Irving saw the writing on the wall with James 2018 free agency.
For James part, he has said nothing that would indicate he wants out of Cleveland. In situations like this, follow the transactions. First Griffin and now Irving, the Cavaliers are preparing for a King’s exodus.