Ex-Duke players cashing in

Jul. 01, 2014 @ 09:57 AM

The start of the NBA’s new fiscal year and free agency has been very profitable so far for two former Duke players.

Cleveland made a big splash immediately by heaping a maximum value contract -- $90 million over five years -- to retain one-time Duke point guard Kyrie Irving.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert expressed his reaction to the verbal deal Tuesday morning via his Twitter feed.

"Looking forward to the next 6 years of @KyrieIrving in CLE," Gilbert said.  "Just shook hands (and) intend to sign on the 10th. Can't be more excited about @cavs."

Irving, whom Cleveland secured with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has played three seasons with the Cavaliers. He’s a two-time All-Star and was named MVP of last season’s All-Star Game in New Orleans.

"I'm here for the long haul Cleveland!!! and I'm ecstatic!!" Irving said on his Twitter feed. "Super excited and blessed to be here and a part of something special. #ClevelandKID"

The new NBA deals cannot be signed until July 10, per league rules.

Meanwhile, former Blue Devil Ryan Kelly is headed toward a significant pay raise from the Los Angeles Lakers. After playing last season on a non-guaranteed contract after being selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft, Kelly received a $1 million qualifying offer from the Lakers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move means Kelly is a restricted free agent, which gives the Lakers the right to match any offer Kelly receives from another team.

Kelly, the 6-11 forward from Raleigh, started slow last season as he recovered from the ankle surgery he had in April 2013. But, once healthy, he played in 59 games (25 starts) and averaged 8.0 points with 3.7 rebounds per game. He also played five games in the NBA Developmental League.

Kelly’s contract last season paid him $490,180 and wasn’t guaranteed until later in the season. He’s already set to double that salary, at least, for his second NBA season.