Kyrie Irving has the understanding of at least one teammate following the All-Star guard’s request to be traded by the Cavaliers.
Richard Jefferson was recording his “Road Trippin’” podcast with fellow Cav Channing Frye when news of Irving’s desire to leave Cleveland broke Friday. The episode, which aired on Monday, allowed Jefferson to give his initial thoughts on Irving’s surprising decision.
“I think Kyrie is a hyper-intelligent kid. Really, really smart,” Jefferson said. “Doesn’t get enough credit for how smart he is, and I think seeing that the franchise is in flux, I think seeing (general manager David Griffin) leave and the amount of coaches … I think Kyrie has had a much tougher time in this stretch of the organization than anyone ever wants to ever really fully (recognize).”
Irving, who is under contract through 2019, has reportedly listed the Knicks, Spurs, Heat and Timberwolves as preferred teams. The Cavs on Monday agreed to sign former Knicks guard Derrick Rose to a one-year deal, which could be a short-term move to replace Irving should he be traded.
Jefferson said the circumstances surrounding Irving’s status in Cleveland have made it difficult for the NBA star to remain content.
“He’s the No. 1 pick right after (LeBron James left for Miami in 2010), then he has three different coaches, then LeBron comes back, now there’s trade rumors, now it’s ‘LeBron’s leaving,’” Jefferson added. “It’s like at some point in time, anybody would want some sort of stability.
“I don’t know if he asked to be traded. I don’t know this. But I will say that he’s had a tougher time if you look at from start to where we are right now — the ups and downs of a franchise — more than most,” he continued. “Even if we’re successful and even though we’ve won a championship, and he’s been an All-Star, there’s still been so much of a wave to be like, ‘Yo, we’re gonna sit here for a whole year on whether or not LeBron’s coming back.’ That’s gotta be tough on anybody.”
Jefferson, however, denied that there’s “a power struggle” between LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love. Still, the 37-year-old veteran recognizes that in a star-driven league, a top player like Irving won’t be happy playing second fiddle throughout his career.