After years as an afterthought, the Cleveland Cavaliers are quite the hot item in the NBA.
After all, they just won the NBA Draft Lottery — again. There is talk LeBron James could play in Cleveland — again. They recently fired head coach Mike Brown — again. And even Johnny Manziel is sporting a Cavs hat out in public. (OK, that last one's new.)
But for all the talk of the resurgence of the Cavs, of who they may pick with that top pick, what kind of roster they could build in an effort to entice the one-favored son, one priority stands above all others.
Undoubtedly the biggest hit by the Cleveland front office since LeBron skipped town in the summer of 2010, Irving, the No. 1 pick of the 2011 draft, can become a restricted free agent after next season, and an unrestricted free agent in 2016. And, despite recent reports to the contrary, Cleveland.com reported over the weekend that the team intends to offer the All-Star point guard a max contract extension shortly after July 1. That is the first date such an extension can be offered.
The story said the offer will be in the five-year, $90 million range. The belief is that signing the 2012 Rookie of the Year and 2014 All-Star Game MVP to the deal now would indicate to fans — and potential free agents — how serious the club and Irving are to building a winner for the long-term.
The report added, however, that " if Irving doesn't seem interested in an extension, that could lead to a trade."
Among the reasons given for the Cavs not wanting to give the 22-year-old Irving the max are his lack of leadership thus far in his career, and numerous reports of Irving's happiness in Cleveland — targets which he has denied.