In their first post-LeBron James era, which lasted from 2010 to 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a number of high draft picks that they used in an attempt to rebuild the team.
Among those draft picks were guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Irving was drafted with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft while Waiters was selected a year later, in the 2012 NBA Draft, with the fourth overall pick.
Together, they played two-and-a-half seasons before Waiters was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in January of 2015.
In a piece by Joe Vardon, Bill Oram and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, it was revealed that Irving and Waiters never got along during their time together in Cleveland.
“The team’s executives at the time thought Waiters would be a perfect fit off the bench if LeBron ever returned,” wrote Vardon, Oram and Lloyd. “The Cavs did eventually get a chance to see if that was right, but Waiters and the organization had already accumulated years of baggage because he and the team’s resident budding star, Kyrie Irving, never got along.
“Waiters and Irving always disliked each other, no matter how much the organization tried covering it. Waiters couldn’t understand why Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 and the NBA Rookie of the Year, was thought to be the better of the two by most deep thinkers inside the organization. Then former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon went on ESPN and said he and Dion lived in the same building and they hang out all the time and he (Gordon) was ‘aware of the rift in the locker room. That’s just alpha males and supreme athletes trying to share the spotlight.'”
The Cavaliers went 57-107 in the two full seasons that Irving and Waiters spent together. Although the talent level wasn’t the highest on the Cavaliers teams during those two seasons, it is possible that the disconnect between the two 28-year-olds contributed to the struggles those teams had.
At the time of Waiters’ trade to the Thunder, the Cavaliers were struggling mightily in their first season with James back on the roster. The night Waiters was traded, the Cavaliers’ record dropped to 19-16 after a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
It will be interesting to see if sometime in the future Irving and Waiters end up becoming teammates once again.