Cavaliers begin new era with Irving

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Thompson has been friends with Irving since they were in high school, and he’s excited about the chance to play with someone he considers a brother.

“I think we’ll complement each other real well,” Thompson said.

For the Cavaliers, this draft signals the start of a new era _ one they hope will someday end with owner Dan Gilbert being handed the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but in the 19-year-old Irving, the Cavaliers believe they have the player who can take them back to where James had them before bolting as a free agent.

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.

In the second round, the Cavaliers selected Richmond forward Justin Harper before trading his rights to Orlando for second-round picks in 2013 and 2014. With their final pick, they took Serbian forward Milan Macvan, whom Grant described as one of “the toughest, nastiest forwards I’ve seen.”

The Cavaliers kept their draft plans under lock and key. They closed their player workouts to the media and 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.

During his visit, Irving took on Scott in two shooting contests, with each winning one.

“He probably won’t admit it,” Irving said. “He won the second one _ by luck.”

Scott disputed Irving’s claim.

“I had to let him win one,” Scott said, laughing.

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.

Gilbert has acknowledged making some mistakes with James, and is determined to avoid any future problems as he rebuilds his basketball team.

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