- Before Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, he reportedly believed LeBron James and the team were trying to push him out.
- The Cavs reportedly discussed trading Irving to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe, who shares an agent with James.
- Irving thought James and his team were behind the trade requests.
- Irving was later traded to the Boston Celtics.
News of Kyrie Irving’s trade request from the Cleveland Cavaliers rocked the NBA world in July, but from the sounds of it, the situation had been brewing for a while.
Reports over the summer revealed that Irving grew tired of playing second-fiddle to LeBron James, and Irving was later fairly open about wanting a new experience when he was traded to the Boston Celtics.
According to a report from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Irving had been quietly growing discontent in Cleveland over the course of the 2016-17 season, but he felt that the team, including James, was trying to push him out after the season ended.
According to MacMullan, the Cavs discussed a three-team trade with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers that would have sent Irving to the Suns while the Cavs landed Eric Bledsoe and Channing Frye. MacMullan reported that Irving believed James was pushing for the trade, as Bledsoe shares the same agent as James.
“No formal offer was made by any of the teams, but news of this potential transaction stung Irving, who, sources close to him say, became convinced that LeBron’s camp, which also represents Bledsoe, orchestrated the trade talks.
“Team and league sources refute that, saying that it was Griffin who initiated the trade talks with Phoenix. Griffin, who is close with Irving, sensed both his unhappiness and his restlessness and was preparing for the possibility that Irving would request a trade. But once Griffin was no longer employed by the team, the conversations stalled.”
Griffin’s contract was not renewed in June, and the Cavs then conducted a sloppy GM search before promoting Koby Altman to GM. In July, during a meeting with the team owner Dan Gilbert, Irving reportedly requested the trade after pressing them on the team’s future, specifically James’ plans with free agency lingering in 2018.
According to MacMullan, people close to Irving said James wasn’t the sole reason Irving wanted to leave Cleveland. Any questions of lingering resentment also seemed to be answered when James and Irving hugged it out when the Celtics and Cavs played in the season-opener.
But with a rematch on Wednesday and the two teams potentially heading for a postseason showdown, the report adds an interesting wrinkle into what could be a budding rivalry.