NBA AM: Will Kyrie Irving Extend In Cleveland?

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving may be sidelined for the balance of the season making his future the prime question surrounding the Cavaliers… The Milwaukee Bucks may have a buyer… Andrew Bynum underwent an MRI yesterday.

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Sports Editor
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The Washington Wizards are keeping Drew Gooden for the balance of the season. He talked with Basketball Insiders about why he picked the Wizards and what he’s learned about the team since joining them a few weeks ago.

Kyrie Won’t Pass On The Extension:  There is no doubting that Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has been unhappy with how his career with the Cavs has played out. Like most young players who get drafted number one overall, Irving knew he’d have some work to do to get his team out of the gutter and into the playoffs, but how it’s gone in Cleveland so far has been frustrating and he hasn’t always done the best job hiding that, which has led to a lot of speculation about his future  there.

Irving injured his left bicep on Sunday and is expected to miss a considerable amount of time, possibly the balance of the season, which now puts Irving’s future center stage on the Cavs’ to-do-list. Irving is eligible for a contract extension this summer and while the Cavs are surely going to park a maximum contract offer on his door step the question becomes will he accept it?

The short answer is yes.

Irving is eligible for what’s technically called the Early Bird Extension, a caveat in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows the Cavaliers a window this summer to get a rookie-scale extension done. The Cavs can also make Irving their designated player, meaning they can offer a five-year extension. Combined with his final contract year Irving is looking at the possibility of locking in the next six years of his career and roughly $93 million in guaranteed cash.

There is a belief among fans that Irving would pass on his extension in an effort to force his way out of Cleveland, when in reality one is not necessarily connected to the other.

Passing on the extension surely sends a message to the Cavaliers, but it does not in any way make an exit likely because of how the restricted free agency process works. While the Cavs can give Irving an extension this summer, next summer (July 2015) is when he actually can listen to offers from other teams, however with a qualifying offer from the Cavs, Irving can be made a restricted free agent and the Cavs can match any contract offer he receives. The only way Irving can get free of Cleveland on his own is to accept the qualifying offer in 2015 and hit unrestricted free agency in 2016.

»In Related: The 2014 NBA Free Agents .

The risks involved with that scenario are massive, so much so that no player in the modern era has done it because there is simply no reason to go to those extremes.

Irving can still play the “I want out card” regardless of whether he signs an extension. He can still “demand a trade” even if he accepts a maximum contract this summer. Irving would lose a marginal amount of power in the equation, but in all honesty because of how the free agency rules work, he doesn’t have any real power until July of 2016. Accepting and securing his future is not exclusive to getting what he may ultimately want as a player.

Irving has said many times he simply wants to win. The Cavaliers share the same goals and desires and it will be on them this summer to prove to Irving that they are ready to put a winner around him in Cleveland. However, that’s not going to preclude Irving  from securing his future.

Players don’t leave money on the table, and with $93 million reason to sign as quickly as he can, Irving isn’t going to pass on an extension.

»In Related: The Cleveland Cavaliers Salary Cap.

The question is how much flexibility is built into that extension and will the Cavaliers offer any option years in the deal.

That’s going to be where things get interesting.

» It’s time to fill out your bracket and Basketball Insiders has you covered with detailed game-by-game capsules featuring all the details on every game. Before you lock in your picks, make sure to do your homework and we have the cliff notes ready for you.

You Can’t Have Them:  Moving the Milwaukee Bucks out of Milwaukee might be good for the NBA’s bottom line – the Bucks earn a league low $109 million in revenue according to Forbes Magazine’s most recent NBA franchise valuation list. They rank dead last in recorded home game attendance at 13,253 per home games this season. But, majority owner Herb Kolh has turned away potential buyers that have called with interest in moving the team.

»In Related: Breaking Down The 2014 NCAA Tournament Field.

Kolh made it clear earlier this season that he would be looking to take on additional partners in the Bucks franchise and that has led to many potential buyers calling and offering him huge sums of money for the franchise with the intent to move the Bucks out of Milwaukee as soon as their lease with the BMO Harris Bradley Center expires in 2017.

Kolh has turned those suitors away, focusing on investors that want to commit to keeping the team in Milwaukee.

Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times is reporting that Kolh could be closing in on a deal, and that he may no longer have a controlling interest in the team on the other side of that transaction. Kolh is expected to remain on in a much smaller minority capacity after the deal and new ownership could be in place in Milwaukee as soon as the end of the season.

Earlier this month new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver downplayed the idea that Seattle was the only city actively trying to lure in a NBA team, mentioning Kansas City, Las Vegas and for the first time publicly San Diego as possible cities looking to acquire an NBA team.

Kohl has been adamant that keeping the Bucks in Milwaukee would be a requirement in a sale. It will be interesting to see how that plays out with new ownership if they can not secure a new arena in Milwaukee after they have closed a transaction.

Bynum Getting An MRI:  You had to know it was coming. You had to know that as much prep work and rehab as Pacer center Andrew Bynum has done to get healthy and ready to contribute that eventually his body would eventually push back.

Bynum underwent an MRI on his swollen knee yesterday and his status going forward is still very much up in the air according to Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.

“This is what we signed up for,” Vogel said to Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “We knew he was a great player with some problem-area knees, (who was) going to be in some times and out some times. We’re fully aware of that and we’ll be excited whenever we have him in uniform.”

The Pacers signed Bynum to a one-year deal worth $1 million after he was waived by the Chicago Bulls.

The Pacers immediately put Bynum on a conditioning and rehab program and hoped to get him ready for the post-season.

»In Related: Is Anthony Davis Becoming The Next Superstar In The NBA?

Bynum saw his first game action as a Pacer on Tuesday March 11, and sat out the following game due to soreness. Bynum logged 20 game minutes on Saturday and posted a 15 point, nine rebound game and has been sidelined ever since.

The Pacers are being very cautious with Bynum, hoping that a good treatment and conditioning program can get him healthy enough to contribute, however an MRI a week after logging his first minutes isn’t necessarily a good sign.

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Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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