Nov 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) defends Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (3) during the game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks defeated the Cavaliers 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving: Star Or Starbury?

Kyrie Irving has been in the national spotlight since high school.  He was a top prospect when he attended Duke, and despite being limited to only nine games during his college career, he still was the top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  He has been heralded as a player who could almost single-handedly change the direction of an entire franchise, and that he would save the Cleveland Cavaliers from mediocrity.

Three years into his contract and the Cavaliers are still hoping that Kyrie will turn into the savior that people have expected.  Through the first three years in the NBA, Kyrie has put up good numbers, appeared in two All-Star games (while winning All-Star MVP in one of them), and has fallen short of the playoffs every year of his career.

What will complicate matters further is that this summer marks Kyrie’s first opportunity to sign an extension with Cleveland.  Despite the many rumors that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland, the pressure is on for Cleveland to make a decision on his future.  Is Kyrie worthy of a max contract based on his current production?  If the Cavaliers do offer a max extension, would the offer be based more on his potential moving forward, or his reputation to date.

Something that should be concerning to Cavs fans though, is that through the first three years of his career, a lot of Kyrie Irving’s numbers are comparable to the first three years for players like Brandon Jennings and Stephon Marbury:

Kyrie Irving 6075 20.9 .548 .497 6.2 33.3 2.1 13.7 29.0 15.9 .125
Brandon Jennings 7171 16.1 .493 .450 5.9 27.5 2.2 12.0 25.8 13.6 .091
Stephon Marbury 7331 17.4 .513 .461 4.3 38.8 1.6 15.4 25.0 14.3 .094
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/14/2014.

Granted, Jennings and Marbury each had character issues that derailed their careers (Jennings still has an opportunity to change this, but , but are we really sure that Irving doesn’t have the same issues in place?  There have been continued questions about his attitude in regards to playing with Dion Waiters, many people have implied that he was instrumental in the firing of GM Chris Grant, and people have also said that he doesn’t even want to be in Cleveland.

Across the board, Irving’s numbers are generally better than that of Jennings … but are they worth $6 million more annually?  Is Irving good enough to be worth close to 20 percent of the salary cap?

Brian Windhorst had this to say:

The truth is [Kyrie’s] camp has been putting out there for years – years – that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. That they don’t want him in Cleveland. He doesn’t like Mike Brown. He didn’t like Chris Grant. He doesn’t like Dion Waiters. He’s already gotten a General Manager fired. He might get Mike Brown fired. This is the last time – once he signs he loses all of his leverage – so this is the last time he gets to enact leverage. I know he’s said all the right things so, fine, on July 1, when they offer a max contract – which they will – and I don’t even know if he’s a max player, but you have to sign him – sign a five year, no out. That’s what a max contract is. A max contract is five years, no out. If you want out or you want three years, that’s not a max contract. You want three years? Okay, we’ll give you $12 million a year. We’re not giving you the full thing.

I’m all for calling a duck, a duck … but that doesn’t help the fact that it is supposed to be a goose.  The hope for Cleveland is that they already have their superstar (goose) in place, but based on the numbers and attitude, they may just have a talented duck.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving

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