Chris Mannix thinks that Isaiah Thomas may be the key to LeBron James staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers long-term.
With one word, Kyrie Irving seemingly confirmed everyone’s suspicions about his relationship with former teammate.
Irving, who requested a trade from the Cavaliers this offseason and was eventually dealt to Boston, said during an appearance on “First Take” that he had not given James a heads-up of his trade request. Told by Stephen A. Smith that given James’ standing as the best player in the world and the leader of that team, such silence could be taken personally.
“Yeah,” Irving responded.
The four-time All Star expanded on his answer by saying that he didn’t owe James or anybody else anything.
"I don't think you owe anything to another person in terms of figuring out what you want to do with your life,” Irving said. “It's not anything personal. I’m not here to tirade anybody. I’m not here to go at any particular person or the organization because I have nothing but love for Cleveland. I have nothing but love for the times that I spent there. It's nothing about that. There comes a time where you mature as an individual. It’s time to make that decision. There is no looking back from that standpoint. There is no time to figure out how to save someone’s feelings when ultimately you have to be selfish in that in figuring out what you want to do. It wasn't about me not wanting to win, it wasn't anything about that. I want to be extremely, extremely happy in perfecting my craft and that was the only intent that I had in all of this."
Added Irving: ”I think that it got much more attention because everybody else started coming out from who would think that their important opinion mattered most. I saw previous players, I saw past players, I saw current players speaking on something that had absolutely nothing to do with them. I’m appreciative of their comments, but at the same time, it’s ultimately my decision.”
Irving and James will have to communicate soon enough, as the C's and Cavaliers open the 2017-18 season against one another Oct. 17 in Cleveland.
BOSTON – It took more than a decade for Paul Pierce to win an NBA title in Boston.
But he will be the first to tell you that the wait was worth it.
He knows better than most how special it is to win a championship in this title-starved city, to be the go-to man for a team in pursuit of that oh-so-elusive Larry O’Brien trophy.
Which is why you can count Pierce among those who believe that new Celtic Kyrie Irving is more than ready to step into those shoes as Boston’s main guy and do what hasn’t been done since the days when Pierce wore Celtics Green – win an NBA title.
LISTEN TO THE CELTICS TALK PODCAST WITH PAUL PIERCE
“Kyrie can impact this team in a major way,” Pierce said in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “You saw what Isaiah Thomas was able to do. A lot of people, even though Isaiah averaged more points, a lot of people believe Kyrie is a better scorer.”
Thomas, who was part of the trade with Cleveland that sent Irving to Boston, ranked third in the NBA in scoring last season with a 28.9 points per game average – tops among all players in the East.
Irving is also coming off a banner season in which he posted career highs in several categories, including points (25.2), field goal percentage (.473) and free throw shooting percentage (.905).
Cavs general manager Koby Altman had nothing but praise for Irving earlier this month during Cleveland’s introduction of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic at the team’s practice facility.
“He (Irving) made tremendous contributions to this franchise and this city,” Altman said. “He was here six years and he became a champion here and he helped us win a championship in spectacular fashion. And so, I think we owe him a thank you and we owe him a debt of gratitude and we'll always be thankful for his exciting years with the Cavaliers.”
Making Irving’s play even more impressive was how he was able to stand out among the best in the NBA, despite playing alongside LeBron James who is widely considered the best player on the planet.
“If you can average 25 points, 26 points and you got LeBron James on your team, that’s pretty impressive,” Pierce said.
With Cleveland, James was often the primary facilitator while Irving played off the ball more but with the ball in hand, Irving frequently took his defender off the dribble with drives into the lane which was a major factor in his 8.3 points scored in the paint per game which according to nba.com/stats, ranked 10th among all guards in the NBA last season.
But no James means that the Celtics offense will often begin with Irving as the initiator, a role that will test the balancing act all great scorers have between creating their own shot versus creating shots for others.
He averaged 5.8 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.32 which ranked seventh among all NBA guards who appeared in as many games (72) last season as Irving.
In Boston, Irving joins a team with a pair of fellow All-Stars (Al Horford and Gordon Hayward) who while talented, aren’t as explosive off the dribble as the 25-year-old Irving who has already been named to four All-Star teams.
“He’s going to be the guy,” Pierce said. “He has championship experience. He’s still young and he’s got some other guys to play with.”
In addition to Horford and Hayward, Irving will also be instrumental in leading Boston’s next wave of impact players that will likely be led by second-year wing player Jaylen Brown as well as rookie Jayson Tatum who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
As talented as Brown and Tatum are, they will benefit greatly from the wisdom and guidance of a proven veteran like Irving who is still relatively young.
“He was ready for this type of role, to be the lead guy,” Pierce said. “He’s learned a lot under LeBron’s tutelage. He’s ready to share that with his teammates and possibly bring another championship to Boston.”