Richard Jefferson Says He Understands Why Kyrie Irving Wants to Leave Cleveland

Cavs forward Richard Jefferson said that he understands Kyrie Irving’s desire to leave Cleveland after requesting a trade.

Jefferson was recording his “Road Trippin’” podcast with teammate Channing Frye when news of Irving’s request broke Friday. The episode, which aired on Monday, allowed Jefferson to give his initial thoughts on Irving’s surprising decision.

“I think Kyrie is a hyper-intelligent kid. Really, really smart,” Jefferson said. “Doesn’t get enough credit for how smart he is, and I think seeing that the franchise is in flux, I think seeing (general manager David Griffin) leave and the amount of coaches … I think Kyrie has had a much tougher time in this stretch of the organization than anyone ever wants to ever really fully (recognize).”

Irving, who is under contract through 2019, has reportedly listed the Knicks, Spurs, Heat, and Timberwolves as preferred teams. The Cavs on Monday agreed to sign former Knicks guard Derrick Rose to a one-year deal, which could be a short-term move to replace Irving should he be traded.