The friendship between Cleveland Cavaliers teammates LeBron James and Kyrie Irving continues to erode after the latter’s trade demand became public. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN revealed that the situation between James and Irving has turned for the worse. Smith said that if Irving were in front of James right now, the latter “would be tempted to beat his ass.” In his podcast, Smith added that James’ biggest concern is that he was projected as a bad teammate by Irving and that was not the case.

On July 7, Irving met with Cavaliers team owner Dan Gilbert and requested a trade, claiming he doesn’t want to play under James’ shadow.

Also, Irving said he wanted to become the focal point of a team’s offense. He then mentioned four teams as his preferred destination – the San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat or the New York Knicks. Zach Lowe of ESPN said the Cavaliers would fulfill Irving’s wishes and trade is now “almost inevitable.”

James can’t wait for Irving to be traded

Now that 2011 MVP Derrick Rose has agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal with the Cavs, James can’t wait for Irving to be traded to another squad. Vardon added that Rose is aiming for Irving’s spot in the starting lineup. Aside from Rose, the Cavaliers signed veteran Jose Calderon to a one-year deal to become the backup playmaker. Last season, Rose averaged 18.0 points and 4.4 assists in 64 games with the New York Knicks.

In his career, Rose averaged 19.5 points and 6.0 assists in 470 career games. Calderon, for his part, splits last season with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 3.4 points and 2.1 assists in 41 games.

Irving blames James for media leak on trade request

Smith earlier reported that Irving’s camp was blaming James for reportedly leaking to the media his trade request.

Smith said that no news came out for two weeks after Irving met with Gilbert. Smith said Irving’s camp believes that after James had discovered Irving’s trade request, he became frustrated and leaked it to the media. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports reported that James could have leaked details of the demand to deny Irving, a smooth exit from the Cavaliers.

According to sources close to James, the superstar felt blindsided after he was made aware of Irving’s request. In their three years together with the Cavaliers, James and Irving reached the Finals three times and led the franchise to its first NBA title two seasons ago.

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