When the clock struck midnight on July 1, the NBA free agency frenzy officially began. One of the best moves of the night, though, didn’t involve a free agent at all, as the Cleveland Cavaliers have now solidified the future of the franchise by signing guard Kyrie Irving to a maximum contract extension.
It was reported on Monday afternoon that the team was expected to fly officials to New Jersey to meet with Irving and offer him the deal, and it was made official at about 2 a.m. eastern time, when Irving posted the following to his Twitter page:
I’m here for the long haul Cleveland!!! and I’m ecstatic!! Super excited and blessed to be here and apart of something special.#ClevelandKID
— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) July 1, 2014
Time for one more moment of clarity, Cleveland fans. This doesn’t mean LeBron James is coming back. Once you get past that, however, what the Cavs do have is an absolute stud of a player who appears to not only be genuinely happy to be there, but who could form one of the better backcourts in the league with top pick Andrew Wiggins. Even if James never returns, the pieces are in place for a solid core for years to come.
In today’s league, where elite players are content to sit back and wait for free agency in order to maneuver their way to an ideal situation, you have to respect Irving’s decision to stay. No doubt it would have been easy to walk away from a team that hasn’t so much as sniffed the playoffs since James’s departure, but now it appears that Irving wants to grow into the star that other guys come to town to play with.
Stability is desperately needed in Cleveland, and this is the type of move that will allow the team to finally find a new identity in the post-LeBron era.