Former Cavaliers GM: Kyrie Irving Requesting A Trade Took Courage

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(Photo: Getty Images)

Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin doesn’t understand the heat Kyrie Irving has taken for requesting to be traded away from a team that’s made three straight NBA Finals.

According to Griffin, not only was sharing his position with the Cavaliers front office the right call, withholding such information could have proved even more costly to the franchise.

“He handled the situation exactly like he was supposed to,” Griffin told The Jump on Monday. “He went to [Cavs owner] Dan Gilbert privately, told him that he thought he would be happier somewhere else.

“The absolute worst thing this guy could have done was pretend to be all-in and sink the ship from within. Most guys don’t have the courage to do what he did.”

Irving has been widely criticized by fans, players, and former players alike for wanting to be the face of his own team.

“Youth. Ignorance. … It’s never your team. You play for the front of your jersey, your name is on the back of it,” said former Cavaliers star Ron Harper, who won five NBA titles after leaving the franchise. “When you get a chance to win and a chance to be on a good basketball team, you have to take that opportunity. That opportunity doesn’t come around all the time.

“You’re on a team that’s been to the NBA Finals the last three seasons. How many guys get there? How many guys would kill to be him? If you go talk to most superstars that quote ‘had their own team’ that don’t get to the playoffs, ask them how they feel.”

Griffin addressed Harper’s comments, and called them “really unfair to Kyrie” because of how professionally the Cavs point guard handled the situation.

“This is a guy whose list included really good coaching situations—Brad Stevens and [Gregg] Popovich,” Griffin said. “This is a guy who recruited LeBron [James], [Gordon] Hayward and a host of other free agents, and all of a sudden LeBron came back, so he was sold a totally different situation than he’s actually in, and he worked very well in, he won a championship in.

“I see this as him looking for a fit for himself, to take the next step in his career. I think this is a guy who wants to know how good he can be. LeBron casts a very large shadow over an organization. And most of it is really, really positive. You know you are expected to win a championship by way of example. But what that doesn’t always allow is for a player like Kyrie to test his boundaries and see how good he can really be, and can I really be the front man of a team like that.”

The former Cavs GM wouldn’t speculate as to where Kyrie will play next season, but did note, “I think Kyrie is going to end up getting traded.” Griffin’s contract with the team expired this offseason, and Gilbert elected not to bring him back, likely because he didn’t want to pay a reasonable salary.