The Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft locked up, but they might not be ready to lock in Kyrie Irving to a maximum contract. The Cavaliers are making "noise" that they won't be offering Irving a max-level long-term extension this summer, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News.
Irving shot a career-low 43 percent from the field last season. Cleveland finished the year with a 33-49 record, their best since the 2009-2010 campaign.
Why it makes sense
The Cavaliers don't necessarily need to sign Irving to a contract this summer. He's guaranteed through the 2014-2015 season and will be a restricted free agent prior to the 2015-2016 season. All the Cavaliers have to do is offer the qualifying minimum of $9.1 million, according to ShamSports, and they'll be in control of his next contract.
Cleveland could wait out an important draft selection, see how the teams plays, then worry about getting their financial ducks in a row. The Cavaliers have reason to pump the brakes a bit and let things play out before making a huge commitment.
Irving could net $93 million with the team's Designated Player Early Bird offer, a huge chunk of salary for the Cavaliers to designate to any player.
Kyrie Irving's Future
Kyrie Irving's Future
Why it doesn't make sense
Would the team rather not have Irving long-term? Go ahead and lock him up, Cleveland. The Cavaliers have a chance to guarantee a potential powerhouse team loaded with high draft picks that needs some continuity. Offering Irving a max, Early Bird Rights extension in the same summer the franchise will wield the power of the No. 1 pick would be an offer he likely couldn't refuse.
As Tom Ziller notes, it's rare for players to turn down big, guaranteed money fresh off of their rookie deals. Their potential draftee isn't going anywhere, they still have Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson to develop and they'll have a new head coach in place soon. Cementing Kyrie Irving as soon as possible could be the best move possible.
On a scale of 1-to-10, this rumor can sit at a 5 right now. The Cavaliers have some leverage after landing such a coveted position in a huge draft and can match any offer thrown Irving's way as long as they offer the qualifying minimum.
There's value in showing a franchise player faith early, so it's not out of question the Cavaliers go forward and are comfortable with guaranteeing a long, healthy future with Irving as soon as possible. There's an argument to be had for this going either way. This rumor doesn't change anything and should be taken with a grain of salt.