This could possibly be the most important summer of Kyrie Irving's life.
Fourteen months ago, I called Irving the point guard of the future and predicted he would be the best at the position by 2015. I'll stand by that prediction.
Although I originally felt that Irving's volume shooting was something he had to do to compensate for his lack of help, it is apparent that it is rooted in his lack of trust in his teammates, a bad habit that can be hard to shake for a young point guard. It doesn't help that he's been used in unimaginative offensive schemes that fail to make the game easier on him and his teammates. The offense doesn't absolve Irving for what has transpired in Cleveland, however, and whether the blame lies more with Irving or the team, his developmental progress (individual and team-oriented) is being stunted.
As ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst reported, Irving leaving Cleveland is a distinct possibility. With his bargaining leverage at its zenith this summer, the question is whether Irving would be locking himself into five years of misery by re-upping with Cleveland.
"You can't put a price on happiness," says one player confidant who advised his player to take the money despite a suspect situation. "It might even be worth it to take a financial hit in the short run to get somewhere more advantageous." That could mean demanding a trade or agreeing to a shorter-term extension, a la Kevin Love (it bears noting that, although Love initially wanted the long-term security, he is much better off with the leverage he has now with the threat of departure).
The Cavs have proved incapable of surrounding Irving with the talent to maximize his ability. With questionable draft picks and his friction with teammate Dion Waiters, plus poor free-agent acquisitions and two failed coaching hires, the team must shoulder the blame for Irving's unhappiness.
So, should Irving commit to Cleveland long term? Since the advent of rookie-scale extensions and maximum contracts, no player has turned down a max extension offer before entering the final year of his rookie-scale deal. Irving potentially has the chance to make history. Let's take a look at his options.