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Iman Shumpert: Cavs players weren’t surprised by Kyrie Irving trade

Iman Shumpert spoke candidly and at length about the Kyrie Irving trade that rocked the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason during a recent interview. And the Cavs shooting guard indicated none of his teammates were all that surprised that Irving is no longer with the team following a blockbuster trade to the Boston Celtics.

Shumpert suggested during the interview with Complex News’ “Everyday Struggle” (viewer discretion is advised) that Irving’s trade demand wasn’t just a “Kyrie-LeBron thing.”

“I don’t think it’s (forget) LeBron,” Shumpert said of Irving’s trade demand, as transcribed by Cleveland.com. “I think it’s more of, ‘I learned, we won together, it’s time for something different.'”

Instead, Shumpert seemed to confirm the belief that Irving simply wanted to step out of James’ imposing shadow as opposed to some sort of conflict between the two superstars.

“(People say) it’s LeBron and Kyrie hate each other,” Shumpert said. “No, it’s two dudes that need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin (Love) needs the ball. Swish (J.R. Smith) can’t shoot unless he has the ball. Kyle Korver can’t shoot unless he has the ball.”

Shumpert indicated what may have upset he and his Cavaliers teammates the most was how Irving’s trade demand was leaked, subjecting everyone to weeks of drama and speculation.

“I don’t know how it was leaked, on whose side or whatever,” Shumpert said. “We wished it could’ve been ‘this trade happened. Boom, that’s it.'”

What’s done is done, obviously, as Irving ultimately shipped off to Boston, despite a brief impasse, with Cleveland receiving Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick and 2020 second-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

The prevailing belief throughout the protracted trade saga was that Irving wanted his own chance to shine without James. Whether there was animosity between James and Irving behind the scenes may never be known. Although Shumpert acknowledged that things “could be awkward for a little bit” between James and Irving but “it ain’t gonna last.”