It has not been the best offseason for Cavaliers fans. They've had to eat crow as Warriors fans have made them pay for a full year of 3-1 lead jokes. They've also had to watch as their respected general manager David Griffin was forced out the door. And now, they're coping with Kyrie Irving trying to find an exit out of Cleveland through a trade.
Although Cleveland fans only just got wind of the Irving news after a bombshell report dropped last week, apparently this has been an open secret in NBA circles for a while. At least, that's what Chauncey Billups seemed to suggest during a radio appearance in Denver on Tuesday morning. While on the Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude 950, Billups admitted he wasn't caught off guard by recent reports surrounding Irving. Billups was, of course, in the running to become the Cavs' new GM in early July before he pulled himself out of contention for the job, and it sounds like he was well aware of Irving's situation.
"It didn't surprise me, I knew as they were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing, so obviously, I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn't know," he said. "But it's unfortunate, man, because he's a special talent, and in my opinion, so much of what he's been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of LeBron James, man."
This means the Irving rumors have been out there for a long time for people in the know. Billups turned down the Cavs job back on July 3, so it's realistic to say he knew about the behind-the-scenes drama for nearly a month before the story broke.
Though he could have stopped there, Billups continued on and seemed to openly criticize Irving's mindset. The way Billups sees it, the primary objective is to win, and Irving would be ignoring that in order to pursue being the lead dog somewhere else if he left Cleveland.
"That would be alarming to me if I was a team looking to get him. Because if it's all about winning, man, you've got a chance to win every single year. And not only that, you're getting everything you want," he said, referencing Irving's shot totals and appearances on national television. "To me, I don't get it. Everybody has their own desires, he won a championship already...maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots. That's the only thing sense I can make of it and to me that doesn't make sense, because to me all I cared about was winning."
Though Billups explained elsewhere in the interview that he just didn't feel the timing was right for a number of reasons, this sure makes it sound like the Irving drama played a big part in him not accepting the job with the Cavs. Based on every reliable account, Billups was the preferred candidate to take over, so losing out on him was a big deal for Cavs management.
From the sound of things, Irving is all but gone in the minds of the Cavs. But this is certainly a new wrinkle, because it shows that Irving's unrest was a known entity in NBA circles. And if that's the case, Cleveland letting the situation get to this point looks even worse than it did previously.