CLEVELAND - Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has already had one superstar leave under his watch. He doesn't want it to happen again.
Gilbert said Wednesday night that he hopes to keep All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving around for his entire NBA career.
Unable to re-sign LeBron James to another contract in 2010, Gilbert said before Cleveland's home opener against the Brooklyn Nets that the Cavs hope Irving will stay long enough to lead them to an NBA championship.
The team recently picked up the 21-year-old's contract option for next season. He can agree to a maximum deal beginning in the summer, but Gilbert said the team has not talked about anything beyond this season.
"We don't even frankly discuss that yet, it's still a little bit early," Gilbert said. "We feel good about Kyrie being here for his entire career. We think we set up an environment and a culture that's conducive to him being not only an All-Star, but the leader of a championship-contending team. We'll keep going until we get to that point, whether it's this year or next year or whenever that may be."
Gilbert pointed to Irving's strong relationship with coach Mike Brown, who is back for his second stint with Cleveland, as one of the many reasons the Cavs are optimistic they can end a playoff drought this season.
"We have a good relationship with him," Gilbert said about Irving. "He and Mike Brown really kicked it off this summer. They really jelled."
Irving's development on and off the floor has impressed Gilbert.
"I think there's been a lot of growth in Kyrie," Gilbert said. "He's still very, very young. Believe it or not, Kyrie is 21 years old. It's hard to imagine all these guys are just 21. He's a special player. I don't even think we've seen near the upside where Kyrie Irving could be. I think Mike Brown is going to really be helpful to him."