Irving has drawn comparisons to New Orleans guard Chris Paul, one of the league’s premier playmakers and a player Scott coached with the Hornets. In Cleveland, Irving will join a crowded backcourt, which already includes guards Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson.
Irving’s excited about the prospect of being groomed by Davis, who came to Cleveland last February in a trade from the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Cavaliers kept their draft plans under lock and key. They closed their player workouts to the media and general manager Chris Grant adopted a bunker mentality in the days leading up to the event. He may be feeling extra pressure to get it right for Gilbert, who famously predicted his team would win a title before James does.
There was no margin for error, which is why the Cavaliers took their time before finally settling on Irving. Cleveland was the only team he worked out for, and when he visited, the Cavaliers put him through a grueling 2 1/2-hour workout and did extensive medical tests to make sure his foot was fully healed.
“He probably won’t admit it,” Irving said. “He won the second one _ by luck.”
Besides Irving’s physical gifts, the Cavaliers were also impressed with his character. Before anointing him as the next face of the franchise, Cleveland wanted to minimize its risk and make sure, as best as the Cavaliers could, that they were investing in someone the city could grow to love.
Cleveland fans are eager for the Cavaliers to get back near the top. James never delivered on his pledge to bring them a title, and then crushed their hopes and dreams last summer when he announced on his nationally televised special, dubbed “The Decision,” that he was taking his talents to South Beach.
But the pain has subsided, and the Cavaliers are finally feeling like the worst is behind them.
Irving wants to take them forward.
“I really want to be the cornerstone,” he said, “the piece of the team that they build around and have a lot of great players around.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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