Leading up to the shocking trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics from the Cleveland Cavaliers late last summer, the narrative was straightforward.
Irving, unhappy playing in LeBron James’ shadow, wanted to take his talents elsewhere and simply requested a trade.
Although the Cavaliers had been to three-straight NBA Finals and won the franchise’s first-ever championship in 2016, Irving wanted to walk away. Some perceived him as selfish. Others viewed him as foolish. Some applauded his mindset.
However, Irving might have had a different reason to request the trade.
Via an explosive report by Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Irving told her that “they didn’t want me there,” referring to the Cavs just days after he arrived in Boston after the trade was completed.
Therefore, was it possible that it was actually the Cavs who wanted to break away from Irving and not the other way around? Was it possible that he was simply reacting to that when he sat down with the front office to officially request a trade?
It seems as though that’s what happened.
“In mid-June, shortly before Griffin left, team and league sources confirm, the Cavs explored a three-way deal with Phoenix and Indiana that would have shipped Irving and Frye to the Suns and brought Eric Bledsoe and Paul George to Cleveland. The Suns resisted, unwilling to part with their No. 4 pick, which they planned to use to draft Josh Jackson,” MacMullan wrote.
She continued, “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.”
Therefore, not only was Irving hurt by the thought of being traded away, but he thought teammate LeBron James was behind all of it.
MacMullan also reported that former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin played a huge role in the entire situation and that he was the one who searched for a deal without his star point guard knowing, sensing Irving’s dissatisfaction throughout last season.
“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. Cleveland then engaged in talks with Indiana and Denver, according to league sources,” MacMullan reported.
Therefore, although Irving initially thought LeBron was responsible, MacMullan's sources told her that Griffin was the one who independently sought to trade Irving. Knowing that Irving no longer trusted his team or his co-star, it's now obvious why the two sides couldn't have remained together and why a trade had to be made.
The two teams play one more time in the regular season and are the presumed favorites to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. If that happens, expect this entire situation to be re-visited in great detail.