Kyrie Irving’s request for a trade away from Cleveland is down to his desire to step out of LeBron James’s shadow and be named MVP, according to Chauncey Billups.

On Friday, news broke that Irving had spoken to the Cavs and told management that he wanted to leave the team this summer. Since then, questions have been asked of what happened in Cleveland to force Irving out.


Some even suggested James leaked the news to prevent Irving leaving, and that it was the unstable summer that will lead to his eventual departure. But Billups, speaking on the Vic Lombardi Show on Tuesday, said he suspected it was a lot simpler than that—even though he still doesn’t support the move.

“Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots,” Billups told ESPN. “That’s the only sense I can make of it, and to me that doesn’t make sense.”

In June, Billups interviewed for the position of Cleveland Cavaliers president, and he already knew at this point that Irving, the point guard, was not happy. But the ESPN analyst is surprised that he would want to move away from James.

“[Irving’s trade request] didn’t surprise me. I knew as [the Cavs] were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing on them,” he said.

“I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But it’s unfortunate, man, because [Irving is] a special talent. So much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of having LeBron James.”

Billups withdrew from consideration for Cavs president at the beginning of July. [/restrict]