An earlier report indicated that the Cleveland Cavaliers were considering not extending a max contract extension to point guard Kyrie Irving, but Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Cavs have "no doubts" about retaining their best player.
Irving will become a restricted free agent after the 2014-15 season, but Pluto reports that Cleveland will do everything in its power this summer to lock its point guard into a five-year extension that likely will be pushing $90 million in total, depending on the league's salary cap figures for next season. Is that the right call?
Talent-wise it's a no-brainer
A two-time All-Star in three seasons, Irving's resume and talent isn't something that's been questioned. The team around the point guard has been the bigger issue for the Cavs. Under first-year general manager David Griffin, there's optimism that will change in the near future. If Cleveland can use its first overall pick this year to select a talented player to pair with Irving -- or if they can land a big-time player in free agency or via trade -- winning could come sooner rather than later.
Cleveland still has time to see how Irving develops with a revamped squad, and that is why they see his progression similar to that of Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, who likewise earned a max deal despite the winning coming after his extension was signed. It's hard to imagine Irving wouldn't make any team better.
Why there could be apprehension
Cavs fans react
Cavs fans react
The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence reported a few weeks ago that the Cavs may not extend an offer to Irving, who may be adverse to remaining in Cleveland. Irving's leadership has been questioned by some, and it's a fair point to wonder if the Cavs put too much on such a young player too soon. That said, it's hard to tell what went wrong this past season in a locker room that was out of former head coach Mike Brown's control.
Irving saw a significant drop-off in production this year despite being an All-Star, as his shooting dipped below 45 percent for the first time in his first three seasons. Minor injuries problems have bothered Irving in his three seasons, not to mention his only year in college at Duke.
One smaller detail regarding an extension is the likelihood of Irving qualifying for the Derrick Rose rule. If he's voted by fans as a 2015 All-Star starter, he could earn up to 30 percent of Cleveland's salary cap space rather than the max of 25 percent allowed on a players' second NBA contract.
How could it play out?
Irving's talent is undeniable and it's also hard to bet against the local report that the Cavs will try to retain their star point guard. Even if leadership issues have been a problem, Irving is only 22 years old. And even if Irving was involved in the locker room troubles, other characters on the team came into play, to be sure. The Cavaliers still have a coaching hire, and much of that decision should depend on a candidates' ability to connect with Irving and the team's other young players.
Cleveland can re-sell Irving on the future and gauge his commitment.
Unless things are a lot worse than any report indicates, the Cavs wouldn't be wrong to offer Irving the max that's he'll certainly garner elsewhere. That said, Cleveland can also allow this season to play out and match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent next summer. The chances of the Cavs extending an offer could be 9 out of 10, but the likelihood he accepts has a probability closer to 7 out of 10. No player in Irving's position has turned down the max extension.