Kyrie Irving's request to be traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the off-season caught many basketball fans by surprise, but the four-time All-Star felt as though their divorce was "inevitable," according to a new interview. While speaking with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan in a wide-ranging interview, Irving opened up about the blockbuster trade to the Celtics for the first time, saying he didn't feel as though the Cavaliers wanted him anymore – something LeBron James denied when he was asked about it earlier this season.
The Cavaliers had explored trading Irving prior to his trade request, MacMullan notes. It's not something that was well known at the time, but Irving decided to stay silent because, he explains, "I knew the truth, and so did they." The Cavaliers reportedly explored a trade with the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers in mid-June that would have sent Irving and backup center Channing Frye to Phoenix in return for Eric Bledsoe and Paul George. While no formal offer was made – the Suns didn’t want to include their Number Four pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in the deal – Irving believed James' camp "orchestrated the trade talks." (James' agent, Rich Paul, also represents Bledsoe.)
Although the Cavaliers denied James' involvement in trade discussions, Irving and his agent met with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert in the second week of July and discussed possible trade destinations.
The eventual trade they settled on has worked out well for both Irving and the Cavaliers this season. The Celtics currently have the best record in the Eastern Conference and Irving has shined as the face of the franchise. The Cavaliers aren't far behind them in the standings, and they should only get better now that Isaiah Thomas has recovered from a hip injury that sidelined him for around seven months. A lot could change between now and the end of the season, but Irving insists that he's happy in Boston and that he's taking full advantage of the situation.