James denies urge to 'beat' Irving over request

Cleveland Cavaliers stars Kyrie Irving and LeBron James may not be team-mates soon but James does not appear to back a report that he is "eager" to see the guard go.
Cleveland Cavaliers stars Kyrie Irving and LeBron James may not be team-mates soon but James does not appear to back a report that he is "eager" to see the guard go.PHOTO: REUTERS

CLEVELAND (Ohio) • LeBron James turned to social media on Tuesday to correct an ESPN report on the frayed state of his relationship with disgruntled Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, who has requested a trade from the Cavaliers earlier this month.

The comments came after the reigning Eastern Conference champions signed point guard Derrick Rose from the New York Knicks on a one-year contract.

Speaking on his podcast on Monday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith quoted sources in James' camp as saying: "If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his a**."

The four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player took objection to that characterisation on Tuesday, sharing the link to a Slam magazine post that included the Smith clip with the hashtag #NotFacts.

"Boooo!! Get another source. (facepalm emoji). #EnjoyingMySummer #YouDoTheSame," he posted on Twitter.

That tweet came moments after James first took to the social media platform to dismiss a different Slam post aggregating a Cleveland.com story that contained the quote: "(Derrick Rose is) also looking at a potential starting spot in the same line-up with LeBron James, now that Irving has asked for a trade and James is eager to see him off."

James, who had remained mostly mum on Cleveland's off-season moves, had appeared to receive the addition of Rose with open arms on Monday night, tweeting "Let's Rock G!!" with five emojis of a rose.

A four-time All-Star, Irving has spent six seasons with the Cavs and has overcome injury issues to become one of the league's elite point guards and biggest stars.

But now that the 25-year-old has finally established himself playing alongside James, he wants out.

There is certain to be major interest in Irving, who averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 5.8 assists in 72 games last season.

He also averaged 25.9 points in his third straight Finals, but he and James could match the Golden State Warriors, who took back their crown after adding Kevin Durant last summer.

The Warriors on Tuesday announced they re-signed free agents Durant, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia and David West, making official what had been reported over the past several weeks.

Golden State did not disclose details of the agreements, but the terms were reported by various media outlets.

Curry agreed to a five-year, US$201 million (S$274.05 million) super-max deal shortly after the NBA's free agency period began.

Durant agreed to a two-year deal worth about US$53 million. Iguodala agreed to a three-year, US$48 million contract, Pachulia concluded terms on a one-year, US$3.5 million contract, Livingston signed a three-year, US$24 million deal, and West inked a one-year contract.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'James denies urge to 'beat' Irving over request'. Print Edition | Subscribe