Former Duke Blue Devils point guard Kyrie Irving made quite a stir when his trade request came to the forefront a couple weeks ago. But despite the firestorm it created, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin wouldn’t have wanted Irving to do anything differently even if he was still running things for the Cavaliers.
“He handled the situation exactly like he was supposed to,” Griffin said Monday on ESPN’s The Jump. “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.”
It’s important to note that the Cavaliers didn’t renew Griffin’s contract at the conclusion of the NBA Finals, so he isn’t exactly an unbiased voice when speaking on this subject. But he did play both sides evenly, acknowledging it’s fair to criticize Irving for not being able to succeed without LeBron James.
Griffin would not speculate which team Irving might play for next season, but he did conclude that both sides would be better off moving on, and that a deal will be made before opening night.
“I see this as him looking for a fit for himself, to take the next step in his career,” Griffin said. “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.”
Irving played for the Blue Devils in 2011 and was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He has played his entire NBA career for Cleveland.