Cavs’ is­sues

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

In his first pub­lic com­ments since Kyrie Irv­ing (above) asked to be traded, Cleve­land Cava­liers owner Dan Gil­bert would not con­firm Wed­nes­day whether he’ll honor the All-Star point guard’s re­quest, but he also didn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that Cleve­land may deal its sec­ond-best player — or if he thinks LeBron James will stay around be­yond next sea­son.

IN­DE­PEN­DENCE, Ohio — Cava­liers owner Dan Gil­bert spent more than 30 min­utes Wed­nes­day pre­sent­ing a pos­i­tive por­trait of his fran­chise.

The re­al­ity is that the Cavs are trou­bled.

In his first pub­lic com­ments since Kyrie Irv­ing asked to be traded, Gil­bert would not con­firm whether he’ll honor the All-Star point guard’s re­quest, but he also didn’t rule out the real pos­si­bil­ity that Cleve­land may deal its sec­ond best player — or if he thinks LeBron James will stay around be­yond next sea­son.

“These things are fluid,” Gil­bert said. “We think that Kyrie Irv­ing is one of the best guards in the NBA. He was part of a cham­pi­onship, three years straight to the Fi­nals, and we value his tal­ent — sig­nif­i­cantly.”

De­spite sev­eral direct ques­tions about Irv­ing’s sta­tus, Gil­bert would not pro­vide any specifics about re­cent con­ver­sa­tions with him or his agent. Gil­bert said he ex­pected the 25-year-old, whose jumper in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Fi­nals pro­pelled Cleve­land to its first cham­pi­onship since the Browns in 1964, to be at train­ing camp with the team in Septem­ber.

“Right now Kyrie Irv­ing is un­der con­tract with the Cleve­land Cava­liers for two or three years, de­pend­ing on the last year,” Gil­bert said. “As of now he’s one of our best play­ers and sure, we ex­pect him to be in camp.”

Gil­bert was clearly at­tempt­ing to avoid mak­ing things worse for the Cavs or do­ing any fur­ther dam­age to the club’s re­la­tion­ship with Irv­ing, who has blos­somed into the one of the league’s best back­court play­ers.

While Irv­ing may want out, the Cavs aren’t ob­li­gated to move him, and new Gen­eral Man­ager Koby Alt­man said Irv­ing re­mains an im­por­tant piece of a team that has been to three con­sec­u­tive Fi­nals.

“He’s a core piece of what we’ve done,” said Alt­man, who was pro­moted to full­time GM af­ter fill­ing in when David Grif­fin left ear­lier this sum­mer. “Kyrie is a tremen­dous player. He has made great con­tri­bu­tions to this fran­chise and we en­joy him as a player. We’re go­ing to keep this stuff in house in terms of what was said in those meet­ings, but he con­tin­ues to be a core piece of who we are and what we do.”

It’s been tur­bu­lent sum­mer for the Cavs, who didn’t de­fend their ti­tle and were beaten in five games by Golden State in the Fi­nals.

AP/CHIANG YING-YING

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