By Eduardo Monk Jr
Folks, it’s official. This has been the greatest offseason the NBA has ever seen. Are the basketball gods apologizing for something? Are they getting bored of the NBA in its current state? Have we just been good little boys and girls? Who knows but we do know the next generous blessing in a long line of them this offseason already. The Cavaliers cornerstone Kyrie Irving officially wants out of Cleveland.
It was already a frustrating offseason in the land of LeBron with the unexpected firing of general manager David Griffin and the 35-year-old Jose Calderon being the top free agent signing. They’re coming off a season capped off with a disappointing loss to the Warriors in the Finals and it felt as if a strong offseason was absolutely critical in order to stay relevant in the Dubs-dominant era we are currently in.
But nope, superstar Kyrie doesn’t even want to be apart of the team anymore. Is this shocking? Yes. Does it make sense? A little bit. Let me explain. His request to move will only make since if LeBron moves. And being apart of a team with LeBron means he knows things that the general public or the top NBA insiders don’t.
As good as Durant and Curry are together, it’s really Kyrie and LeBron who make up the best duo in the league simply because their skill sets complement each other incredibly well. Irving is a flashy score first point guard who can’t defend well while LeBron is an all-around superstar who basically covers up all of Kyrie’s flaws and in return has one of the best scorers in the league.
However, with that being said, it makes no sense for Kyrie to want to leave in any way if LeBron stays. Irving says he wants to be the focal point, THE MAN of a franchise. But we have seen that doesn’t quite work. In his 3 seasons where he was the only star on the Cavaliers, they went 78-152. LeBron strolls into town and they go 161-85.
As good as he is, Kyrie isn’t great enough to lead a team to victory by himself. At the end of the day, he’s a sidekick. If LeBron is Batman, then Kyrie is Robin. Put Robin on a team with an established superhero who covers up his flaws (Batman is perfect for that job on the Justice League), and said superhero and team will be a whole lot more dynamic. The same can be said for Kyrie. He isn’t going to make a team great by himself, he only makes the team with an established superstar better.
So the decision to want to leave the Cavs doesn’t make a lot of sense. Even though they probably not going to be able to beat the Warriors, at least Irving will still be a star in this league and will still be on a winning, respectable team.
Unless he knows something we don’t. We have already covered that it’s LeBron that is the perfect fit for the skill set of Kyrie and it makes no sense to leave when there is no one else who is more perfect to make Irving better and who can allow him to make his team better. But what if he already knows that LeBron is out and to prepare, is already skipping town before LeBron can?
Folks, this news only makes enough sense to exist if LeBron leaves. And I think after this, it’s almost guaranteed that this is the last season for him in a Cavs jersey. There is no other explanation for why Kyrie would want to leave so suddenly.
Yeah, he says he wants to be the star but we have seen that fail. It would be borderline stupid to leave his current situation which is by far the best one he can find for his personal and team gain. There isn’t another team he can go to where he will succeed as much as he is right now. So why would he want to move?
But no matter what, the Cavaliers are in just about the hairiest situation imaginable. There’s no guarantee he will be traded as the front office can simply just say, no you’re staying. But he’s a grown man and there’s no guarantee Kyrie won’t just opt out of his contract or downright refuse to play until he is traded. Right now, we don’t know the full extent to how much he really wants out. And that makes this whole situation a lot harder to read.
For this article though, we will assume the Cavs do trade their star. There is no guarantee of this but if he were to be traded, where is the best and most likely place he will land? Luckily, Kyrie himself has explicitly stated as where he wants to go-New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves and Miami Heat, so that’s where he will go in this world.
Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng for Kyrie Irving
If the Cavaliers were to move Kyrie, then they better hope to get some bright young talent, especially if LeBron is on the outs as well. And few are as bright as former Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins. He is slowly blooming into one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the game and with some refining to his defense, could be a full blown superstar. Dieng just sweetens the deal for Cleveland.
This trade feels a little counterintuitive for Minnesota as Wiggins feels like the next great star in this league and is the one who will lead the Timberwolves to the promise land. He fits in the timeline as once he hits his prime, the reign of the Warriors would be fading. But after bringing in 27-year-old Jimmy Butler, it’s clear the Timberwolves don’t feel like waiting much longer to contend.
And in all reality, having another star to pair next to Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns could be what they need to seriously contend post-Warriors and even give the Dubs a run for their money right now. Kyrie is just hitting his stride in the league and will be heavily contributing for 10 more years at least. A Big Three of Towns, Kyrie and Jimmy feels a lot better than Towns, Wiggins and Jimmy.
Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson for Kyrie Irving and Channing Frye
The Heat do not have any stars outside of Hassan Whiteside (if you consider him a star) so they are going to have to send nearly their entire crop of young players if they want any hope at landing Irving. The three of Johnson and Richardson, at their ceiling, are going to be starting level players one day while Winslow has a lot of star potential in him. The Cavs are going to need to demand as much youth as they can to kickstart a rebuild if they need to move Irving.
But yeah, I know. This trade makes absolutely no sense for the Heat. They’re a rebuilding team who will probably make the playoffs anyway because Eastern Conference. To trade every drop of youth they have for a star who won’t do much besides pad the highlight reel makes almost no sense. However, if there is mutual interest between Kyrie and the Heat, there aren’t many other deals that would be able to appease both sides.
New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony for Kyrie Irving and Richard Jefferson
The Knicks are a team so devoid of talent that the only asset they have to offer is the 33-year-old Carmelo Anthony. If the Cavs are forced to deal Kyrie to the Knicks, this is virtually the only deal that is possible that doesn’t require Kristaps Porzingis. LeBron would be pretty ecstatic about this deal but he would probably be one of few in the city of Cleveland.
The Knicks, however, win something in this one. They’re a rebuilding team who will benefit greatly from acquiring the 25-year-old All-Star. A duo of Porzingis and Kyrie is an exciting match and there’s suddenly a ray of hope for the hapless Knicks. In the East, a team with two stars (especially if Porzingis takes the next step this season) is more than good enough to make the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Anderson for Kyrie Irving
The Spurs are a team running out of time as Kawhi Leonard is the only star on the roster under 30. Bringing in Irving, an All-Star just now hitting his prime, to pair next to Kawhi is exactly what could be necessary to not just keep up, but to perhaps even beat the Warriors. If you care so to remember, the Spurs had a 23 point lead on the Dubs before Leonard went down with injury. Insert Kyrie into that game and even the whole series and it could have been a much different story.
The Spurs don’t have a lot of young assets to move for Kyrie, especially after they refused to resign Jonathan Simmons and he skipped town to Orlando. So this means they will have to break into their core in order to have any chance have landing Kyrie. Even though he’s slowly on the decline, LaMarcus Aldridge will still have a few more contributing years in him. Prospect Kyle Anderson could be a solid rotation player one day.