“I’m in Cleveland,” he said after the Cavs’ 117-86 loss to the New York Knicks Thursday night. “I enjoy myself. I enjoy going out and competing at the highest level for the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Earlier Thursday, Chad Ford of ESPN.com, answering a question in an online chat, wrote that Irving has been telling people privately that he wants out.
Not so, Irving insists. “It’s not about me,” he said, “and it’s not about this controversy: ‘Do I privately want out when my contract is up?’ I’m still in my rookie contract and I’m happy to be here. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time”.
Irving has another season left on his contract and then would be a restricted free agent if he does not sign an extension with the Cavs before the start of next season. LeBron James, after seven seasons with Cleveland, signed four years ago with the Miami Heat as a free agent, leaving the team without its marquee player
Irving has not decided on signing the extension and the Cavaliers cannot officially offer him a new deal until July 1.
“I’m not saying anything to tell the future, but I’m pretty sure the relationship I have with (owner) Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court. I enjoy being here,” Irving said. “I’m still trying to get through this season. Everybody is trying to antagonize this team and put it on me to ‘privately he wants out.’ I’m here for my teammates, I’m here for coach (Mike) Brown and the coaching staff and I’m going to play my heart out every single night for the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Irving, who was voted in as a starter to next month’s All-Star Game, is averaging 21.5 points and 6.2 assists for the 16-30 Cavs.