BOSTON (CBS) — The soap opera that is Kyrie Irving’s breakup with the Cleveland Cavaliers has a new bonus chapter.
We know that Irving wanted out of Cleveland, but with two years left on his contract, he really didn’t have too much leverage in the situation. However, according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, the point guard had an ace up his sleeve to ensure a trade would happen.
Irving reportedly threatened to undergo knee surgery and miss the 2017-18 season if the Cavs didn’t find him a new home:
Irving’s desire and request to leave the Cavs last summer are well documented. Wanting to leave LeBron James’ shadow and the culture James dominated in Cleveland, upset that former general manager David Griffin was gone and miffed that the Cavs considered trading him to Indiana for Paul George, Irving asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him.
Gilbert didn’t have to honor the request, though, as Irving had two years left on his contract.
According to multiple sources, Irving threatened to sit out the season and have surgery on his knee, convincing Gilbert and Cleveland’s front office that the relationship with Irving was not salvageable.
Vardon reports that LeBron James was pretty miffed that Cleveland didn’t call Irving’s bluff, instead shipping the guard to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and the 2018 Brooklyn first round pick.
The trade is working out pretty well for Boston, with Irving leading the green with 24.5 points per game. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference at 35-14. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have struggled to a 29-17 record and there are several reports that things aren’t going very well inside the Cleveland locker room.
It’s unclear how much of this is true, as Irving’s agent didn’t want to discuss anything about Irving’s conversation with the Cavs front office (not that he would have said anything anyways). The report adds that the surgery would have been minor, a follow-up procedure to surgery Irving had after breaking his kneecap during the 2015 NBA Finals. He may still require surgery on the knee, though it likely won’t happen until the offseason, which isn’t all too uncommon.
But one thing is certain: The drama never ends in the NBA.