Did LeBron James leak Kyrie Irving’s trade request? Irving thinks so, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
But the question is more than can a team win a championship with a ball-dominant point guard like Westbrook? It’s a question that Chris Paul hasn’t been able to overcome and other guards like Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis could not overcome either.
So when someone says George staying with the Thunder is contingent upon winning, it’s far more than about winning 50 games.
Thunder beat writer Royce Young said Thursday on The Jump the odds for George to return to the Thunder are ‘not great’ if the team doesn’t win.
People close to Paul George have told me over and over again he wants to win, Young said.
For starters, he wouldn’t be the No. 1 option in two of his four proposed destinations. Nobody is unseating two-way star Kawhi Leonard, third behind only Westbrook (30.70) and Durant (27.68) with a player efficiency rating of 27.62, in San Antonio. Minnesota is building around 21-year-old Karl-Anthony Towns and his 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
Furthermore, we’ve already seen this movie, and the ending is horrible. Unlike Bryant, prior to parting ways with O’Neal, Irving has already been the alpha dog for a franchise. As the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, he was tapped to lead the Cavs after James infamously decided to take his talents to South Beach in 2010. In the three seasons preceding James’ return to Cleveland (with Irving starring as leading scorer each year), the Cavs went a combined 78-152 and landed the top pick in the draft twice.
Here’s footage of Irving asking former teammate Mike Miller if a regular-season game against the Bulls in 2014 felt like a playoff game. (The game was played on Oct. 31, only the second game of the regular season.)