Like many current and former NBA players, Charles Barkley doesn’t understand why Kyrie Irving would request a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. While speaking with NBA TV on Tuesday, the Hall of Famer criticized young players for wanting to leave a good situation to be “the man” and expressed his concerns over the “new generation” of NBA players.
“I don’t understand the Kyrie situation,” Barkley said. “This generation of players, you want to be on a good team. You want to play with other great players. This notion where you want to be the man, I just think it’s so stupid. Like, if I got a chance to play with another great player, I want to do that. The objective is to win. When you’re on a bad team – when he was on bad team and he was the man, I guarantee you that wasn’t a lot of fun for him. And now you want to leave the best player in the world?”
Barkley went on to acknowledge that the uncertainty of LeBron James’ future with the Cavaliers could play a factor in Irving’s decision, but Barkley believes Irving would have the opportunity he’s ultimately looking for in Cleveland if James decides to leave in the summer of 2018.
Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin offered a different perspective on the matter earlier this week, telling ESPN‘s “The Jump” that “most guys don’t have the courage to do” what Irving did while praising the way he approached the situation.
“I think Kyrie’s going to end up getting traded,” Griffin said. “I don’t think this is youth and ignorance. This is a guy who handled the situation exactly like he was supposed to. He went to Dan Gilbert privately and told him that he thought he would be happier somewhere else. The absolute worst thing this guy could have done is pretend to be all in and sink the ship from within.”
“This is the guy who recruited LeBron, [Gordon] Hayward and a host of other free agents when he decided to sign and stay in Cleveland,” Griffin continued. “Then all of a sudden, LeBron came back. So he was sold a totally different situation than he’s actually in and he worked very well in, he won a championship in, and I see this as him looking for a fit for himself now to take the next step in his career.”
While the Cavaliers have reportedly explored a number of trades for Irving, they still haven’t give up hope that they can smooth the situation out before the start of the 2017-18 season.