Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert appeared on Complex’s Everyday Struggle to discuss his relationship with Teyana Taylor, discuss the rap game, and of course, talk about the always-dramatic Cleveland Cavaliers.
(Shumpert begins discussing the Cavaliers situation at the 52 minute mark. Warning: NSFW language)
Shumpert was asked about the Kyrie Irving trade, and he bemoaned the way the saga played out in the media:
“I didn’t expect it to happen how it happened. It was like a dragged out thing, I don’t know how it was leaked on whose side or whatever. I know as a team, as a whole . . . we wish it was more controlled in a sense that it, the fans didn’t have to weird quotes, and ‘is this true, is that true?’ . . . We wish it could have just been, ’This trade happened, boom, that’s it.’”
Shumpert also downplayed the reported tension between Irving and LeBron James, citing that it was more about their fit together as basketball players.
“This wasn’t just a Kyrie-LeBron thing. The media turned it into that for y’all.”
“It’s two dudes that need the ball. LeBron need the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin needs the ball.”
“He’s grown. He’s not taking it as ‘Oh, Eff LeBron,’ I think it’s more like, ‘I learned. We won together. I want something different.’”
Shumpert was also asked if it would be harder for the Cavaliers to return to the Finals since Irving was traded, and he talked about Irving’s ability to function as a release valve when the offense gummed up:
“Yes. It’s going to be harder. You gotta think, we leaned on Kyrie for a lot of things. There’s a lot of times where our play calls, the other coaching staff has put together a gameplan that is really dismissing our playcalls. We can’t get nothing done because their defensive scheme is really good. Maybe we’ve used LeBron and ran him into the ground the first three quarters . . . Kyrie’s got energy, and he don’t need a play, he don’t need a ball screen, you can send two people at him, that don’t matter. Like, he can really do that. That’s his gift, so it’s like, we leaned on him in plenty of games, we should lose the game - we gave that man the ball and everybody went to the left side of the court and we watched Kyrie win the game.”
Shump also was very candid about his role within the Cavaliers, and said that he felt the team lost confidence in his jumper during a midseason swoon. He certainly didn’t seem thrilled about that, but put the onus on himself to be more consistent as a jump shooter:
“The only thing I’m taking personal is the court ****. When I look at my ****, I look at the year; I was shooting the ball at a 40 [percent] clip, then January hit, and I had a rut where I wasn’t shooting the ball as well and my team lost confidence in me shooting the ball. They sorta went away from me at times. I gotta be real with myself, if you just shot that thing at 45 [percent] the whole time, they have no reason to look you off.”
Finally, Shumpert pushed aside rumors that he’d requested a trade or that he was on the trade block.
“Bro, I’ve been getting traded since I got in this league, as far as rumors go.”
It’s a really interesting interview if you get a chance to listen to the whole thing, and though Shump can be a bit of an on-court space cadet at times, it’s a candid, smart interview.
He clearly isn’t super pleased with his role on the team, and he went to bat hard for Kyrie, who he’s very close with, but if he isn’t happy, beyond comments about the team freezing him out, he was fairly diplomatic.
He’s not wrong that Irving was a valuable release valve for the Cavaliers these past three seasons. With that said, they’ve got additional depth, and once Isaiah Thomas gets healthy, they’ll have a new secondary option for the offense.
This has been an ugly, dramatic summer for the Cavaliers, and it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Shump go scorched Earth. For the most part, he didn’t. We’ll see if it stays that way if he struggles to find minutes in Tyronn Lue’s rotation.