Does Kyrie Irving Want Out Of Cleveland?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling again this year with a record of 16-29, but things might have just gotten worse for Ohioans. During a chat with ESPN’s Chad Ford, he let a bomb drop about Cleveland’s franchise player. While answering a question about Cleveland GM Chris Grant, Ford let slip that Kryie Irving is privately voicing his displeasure with the Cavaliers and might be looking to leave town in the summer of 2015.

Ford was asked whether Cavs coach Mike Brown and GM Chris Grant were on the hot seat after Cleveland’s disappointing opening half to the year. Here’s how Ford answers, emphasis ours:

Virtually every GM in the league believes that Grant will be gone this summer if things don’t get turned around this season. He doesn’t have much time. The thinking is that there’s no way [owner] Dan Gilbert is going to let him make another lottery pick if that’s the direction the Cavs end up heading. Grant’s goal (via his owner) is to get this team competitive and into the playoffs. The Deng move was supposed to help. But so far … nothing. Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment. Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can’t afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.

When someone from Toledo, Ohio mentioned how upset Cavs fans will now be at the mention Irving is unhappy in Cleveland, Ford told them to calm down. It’ll be hard for Irving to opt-out after his rookie deal (which expires in the summer of 2015):

Yeah, I see Twitter is blowing up about what I wrote about Kyrie. Thought that was fairly common knowledge that he’s been unhappy there. Maybe not … Don’t overreact. Much, much harder for players in their rookie contracts to leave. They have to take a much riskier path and essential [sic] sign a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent. Very few do it. And the Cavs are working to try to create a winning situation and culture to make him happy. Didn’t report it to say he’s gone. Just trying to show why the Cavs are trying hard to right the ship right now. Back away from the ledge Cavs fans.

Kyrie has struggled through the season’s first half. He is shooting a career-low 42.8 percent from the field, and 36.5 percent from deep. While that’s not horrendus, it’s not in line with more remarkable numbers from his first two seasons. His effective field goal percentage is below 50 percent (47.6) for the first time in his career, and he’s sporting a 20.2 PER, which is well above average, but still lower than the identical 21.4 marks he sported in his first two seasons.

His possible improvements on defense — something he talked at length about with us this summer — don’t merit mentioning, since the Cavs are giving up 106.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, and just 99.3 when he’s off, per NBA.com. He’s still a dreadful negative when he’s lined up against opposing point guards, who are shooting a higher effective field goal percentage than he does when they’re matched up, per 82games.com.

In all, Kyrie has failed to live up to the expectations he set for himself through his first two NBA seasons, even if he was selected as a starter by the fans in next month’s All-Star game. Whether Ford’s outta-the-grapevine line in the chat is true or not, the Cavs will need more if Kyrie’s to play the role of franchise-savior many have designated for him since LeBron left and he was drafted No. 1 overall.

A big question remains, though: do the Cavs deal him if they don’t think he can get them over the hump and into the playoffs, even with Luol Deng in a Cavs uni? It sounds like they’ll be players ahead of the February trade deadline, and now maybe Kyrie is on the table if he really is grousing privately about staying in Cleveland past the summer of 2015. As Ford mentions, they can’t afford lose him for nothing, like they did with James.

[Sportsnation Chat]

Will Kyrie stay in Cleveland past his rookie deal?

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