Kyrie Irving Wants To Make Cleveland A Free Agent Destination

The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted a player with the first overall pick that guy never really was all that vocal about encouraging NBA free agents to come join him here.  And no, I’m not talking about Brad Daugherty.  I’m not trying to drum up any negative feelings about any ex-Cavalier players either, I only mention for added perspective.  I swear.

We’re continuing to move forward here at Stepien Rules in what we’ve dubbed the 2011-12 Season Of Hope, and we are more than happy to do so.  There’s plenty of reasons to be encouraged if you think about.

Kyrie Irving stands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, New Jersey June 23, 2011.
One of those reasons is Kyrie Irving.  With this extended off-season allowing him ample time to heal whatever may have once ailed his famous toe, he appears ready to take on the NBA challenge that now awaits him. Finally.  If you’re a Cavs fan, he’s offering some awesome quotes too as he looks to explode from the starting gates just after Christmas Day. 

Like this one published yesterday by David Aldridge at

“I want to bring back Cleveland to the point where people actually want to come there,” Irving said.

“Cleveland’s a great place but I think it’s an underrated organization. They’re going to get players. I know Mr. (Dan) Gilbert’s going to do anything to get players. They want to be great right away.”

I think that car ride around Cleveland he took with Joe Haden a couple weeks ago might be paying off already.  Straight out of the things Clevelanders love to hear their star athletes say handbook, Kyrie Irving is getting off on the right foot here to launch his Cavaliers career.  No reason to think he doesn’t mean every word he said either.

The kid is also pretty pumped to move into his new place in the area too.  This according to what he posted on his twitter account over the weekend if you missed it: 

If he ends up getting that new home or apartment by you, I think a fruit basket or something neighborly is the least you can do for the guy.  He’s coming here with the best of intentions, and you should make him feel welcome for that I think.

Collective Bargaining Agreement Details:

If you’re still curious about the details involved in the new CBA, and how it may affect the Cavaliers, a couple of links below will help you navigate your way though those bylaws I said yesterday I didn’t want to talk about really.  I’m still not though, because I’m simply linking to other people who are talking about it.  People who summarized it better than I could anyways.

The first is from Larry Coon at ESPN, who breaks down everything from a global standpoint. For what it’s worth, he also uses Baron Davis specifically as an example of how the Amnesty Clause works. I don’t think they’re going to Amnesty him anytime soon though, but that’s a topic for another day I guess.

Per Larry Coon at ESPN: 

• 2005 CBA: One player can be waived prior to the start of the 2005-06 season. The salary of the waived player will not count toward the luxury tax.

• 2011 CBA: One player can be waived prior to the start of any season (only one player can be amnestied during the agreement, and contracts signed under the new CBA are not eligible). The salary of the waived player will not count toward the salary cap or luxury tax. Teams with cap room can submit competing offers to acquire an amnestied player (at a reduced rate) before he hits free agency and can sign with any team.

• Who benefits? As with the amnesty provision in the 2005 agreement, this provision allows teams to kick one bad contract to the curb. The benefits to amnesty are greater now than they were in 2005 — 100 percent of the player’s salary is removed for both cap and tax purposes. The other big change is that teams are allowed to pocket their amnesty card to use later — so teams that managed their cap well to this point benefit because they don’t have to use it or lose it.

Teams with cap room can benefit greatly from the amnesty provision by being able to submit a competing offer to claim an amnestied player at a reduced rate. For example, if Cleveland uses its amnesty provision on Baron Davis, a team that is $5 million below the salary cap can submit a $5 million offer to acquire Davis’ contract. If that offer is the highest, the team acquires Davis and is responsible for $5 million of his salary — with Cleveland responsible for the balance. This happens before Davis becomes a free agent and can sign on his own with a team like Miami.

The second link being from Scott Sargent at WFNY, who relates those details more directly to the Cavaliers situation.  In the excerpt below he breaks down the CBA in relation to the Cavaliers rookies.

Per Scott Sargent at WFNY: 

So, knowing where we stand, what does the new agreement do to our rookies?

Per the new CBA, rookie contracts will not be impacted.  Thus, the Cavaliers can expect to sign both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson to deals that would cost approximately $5.5 million per player in 2011-12. Given this, we can add $11 million to each total, bringing the Cavs to $66 million and $63 million, respectively.

One of the concessions for the lockout to end was, despite the players only getting paid approximately 80 percent of their salary for this season, that the salary cap itself remains constant at $58 million – this “cap,” a soft one, is also expected to be present for the 2012-13 season though some projections have it increasing to roughly $61 million. As hard as it is to believe, the Cavaliers roster listed above, save for a few minor tweaks for roster-space reasons, will be close to – if not above – the 2011-12 salary cap.

First-round draft selections have their contracts fully guaranteed during the first and second year, with options abound for subsequent seasons.  Given where the Cavaliers project to be in 2012-13 (only $31 million guaranteed, excluding rookies), their reasons for not moving up into the first round for a third selection and trading the soon-to-be-extended JJ Hickson make financial sense for the long-term health of the franchise.

Image Via: Kwout 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine,,, and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.