Cavaliers’ guard Iman Shumpert said he and his teammates were not surprised Kyrie Irving asked to be traded, but insisted that players and fans were in a state of uncertainty for the month between the All-Star’s request and eventual departure to Boston.
“We all knew certain things about this team that’s tough,” Shumpert said in an interview.
“I don’t know how it was leaked, on whose side or whatever,” Shumpert added. “We wished it could’ve been ‘this trade happened. Boom, that’s it.'”
Word began to spread in late July that Irving asked to be dealt, supposedly because he was dissatisfied with his role in Cleveland. The perception was he was seeking to be the focal point of his own team rather than continuing to play alongside and in the shadow of LeBron James.
The Cavs players were hoping that if a trade was going to take place, that it would happen quickly so the team’s focus could return to basketball and adjusting to life without Kyrie. Also, the team would need time to begin developing chemistry with whoever was brought in to take Kyrie’s place. Kyrie may have only been one player, but he was invaluable to the team as we found out during the 2015 NBA Finals. Not having him on the roster any longer was going to take time to recover from.
As it turns out, Irving’s trade to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and two draft picks was announced onAugust 22, and finally completed August 31.
Shumpert said Irving’s request to go play elsewhere and his desire to lead a team wasn’t due to a personal beef between Kyrie and Lebron.
“People say it’s LeBron and Kyrie hate each other,” Shumpert said. “No, it’s two dudes that need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin (Love) needs the ball. Swish (J.R. Smith) can’t shoot unless he has the ball. Kyle Korver can’t shoot unless he has the ball.”
“I don’t think it’s (forget) LeBron,” Shumpert added, characterizing Irving’s trade request. “I think it’s more of, ‘I learned, we won together, it’s time for something different.'”
Shumpert, who is a friend to Irving, said the two still talk, and while he expects things to be a bit awkward between Irving and the rest of the team, at least for a while, he doesn’t think it will last. This, despite Irving telling reporters during his introductory press conference in Boston that he hadn’t spoken to LeBron James since reports that he wanted out of Cleveland first surfaced. Shumpert, however, believes there isn’t anything to that.
“There’s no hard feelings,” he said. “And I’m sure Ky at some point is going to talk to everybody, the same way he talked to me. Ky’s a regular dude. He’s going to compete and he knows we’re going to be out looking for him when we play Boston. It’s all fine.”
Shumpert insists the team is fine and will move on but the reality is, not many players would have asked out of the situation Kyrie was in last season. However, it does seem the 25-year old star marches to his own drummer. No longer wanting to play in the shadow of LeBron may have been one reason why Irving wanted to leave. However, Irving may have also been worried that LeBron would once again leave Cleveland when he becomes a free agent in 2018. Perhaps, Irving recognized the writing on the wall and didn’t want to be the guy holding the bag a year from now in Cleveland.
Whatever it may be, Kyrie Irving decided he wanted out. Now.
[Featured Image by Michael Perez/AP Images]