If you didn’t believe that things had truly soured between Cleveland Cavaliers teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, then look no further than the most recent report. After Irving requested a trade from the team, which apparently blindsided James, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on his podcast it’s gotten so bad that if James saw Irving now he would be “tempted to beat his ass.”
Speaking on his podcast Monday, Smith quoted sources in James’ camp about how bad things have gotten.
“If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass,” the source told Smith.
It’s amazing to see how far this relationship has fallen. The two seemed to more than coexist for the Cavaliers over the past three seasons. They, of course, managed to bring a championship back to Cleveland and both players have produced at All-Star caliber levels.
As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported, Irving wants to leave in order to become a “more focal point” and no longer play alongside James.
“The request came last week and was made to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Irving has expressed that he wants to go play in a situation where he can be a more focal point and no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.”
It’s an interesting situation, but as FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring pointed out, Irving may actually be better as a “sidekick.” He pointed to his durability with a potentially higher workload, as well as the fact that he’s struggled on the defensive end of the court.
Even if that is true, Irving is still likely going to bring a nice haul of players and picks to the Cavaliers if and when they do decide to trade him. The longer they wait, though, the stickier the situation is going to get. And based on James’ most recent comments, it’s probably better if the team can avoid having James and Irving run into each other at the facility.