How Kyrie’s LeBron frustration erupted into trade demand

It was not a sudden burst of anger with Kyrie Irving, but instead a gnawing frustration with LeBron James that built through years.

Irving, a four-time All-Star, wants a bigger role someplace else and asked Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a trade to the Timberwolves, Spurs, Heat or the Knicks.

His trade request — which Irving thinks James leaked to the media, according to ESPN — stems from Irving growing increasingly upset with his secondary role behind James, specifically growing jealous with how James overtook the point guard role and always had the ball in his hands. Irving wasn’t fond of the organization’s unbalanced treatment of the two stars, specifically how the Cavaliers hired one of James’ close friends to travel with the team on the road, while Irving’s similar desires were not entertained.

These smoke signals were known about for the past few months. David Griffin, the GM behind the Cavs’ first NBA title in 52 years who was inexplicably let go three days before the draft, had multiple conversations with Irving after he grew concerned with the star’s mindset. Those conversations didn’t amount to much, as Irving was simply tired of living in James’ shadow, ESPN reported.

Griffin served as the glorified babysitter for the Cavs’ passively clashing stars, but once he left, the wheels fell off — and Irving’s situation completely derailed.

When James left Miami and signed with the Cavs in 2015 — and then they swung a trade for Kevin Love — it gave Cleveland its rendition of a Big 3. But at the same time, it stole the spotlight from Irving, the team’s budding star and marquee player. Irving had signed a lucrative five-year extension 11 days before James inked his return to Cleveland. His achievements and rising stardom with Cleveland was immediately pushed to the backburner once James came home.

“Kyrie has always been uncomfortable with this not being about him, and his team,” one person close to the Cavaliers told Bleacher Report. “He’s always had to sort of swallow his pride.”

Irving’s desire to succeed by himself is a risky one. While he’s almost certain to reach the Eastern Conference finals with the Cavs again, if he were to leave, he might never get another championship chance. And obviously, if Irving is subtracted from the Cavs’ puzzle, their chances of toppling the Warriors get dashed.

“Sure, we’ve had our fair share of moments and kind of chaotic times, and that’s obviously been well documented, but at the same time we’ve had a lot of joy,” one Cavs player told ESPN. “I hope Kyrie is with us, that’s all I got to say. At the end of the day, we’re pretty f–king good.”

Now, with Irving trying to jump ship, the Cavs’ brass has upset James. ESPN reported that James has taken to heart the development of Irving’s trade desires. It was previously reported that James was frustrated with Gilbert for destroying the front-office staff, helping lead to a worryingly inactive Cavs offseason.

Despite these qualms, James would not waive his no-trade clause for any team next season, ESPN reported. That could bode for something as strange as Derrick Rose playing second fiddle in Cleveland next season.


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