Now that the flat earth drama has subsided, it appears that Kyrie Irving wants to remain a relevant topic in NBA discussions. According to reports he recently made it known that he no longer wants to play with LeBron James, and would like to be traded to another team. Rumors continue to swirl that he went as far as to say he is “not talking” to the Cavaliers, and that he wants to be traded to the Knicks “very badly”. The problem is that Irving still has three years remaining on his contract with Cleveland, but he can opt out in 2019 becoming an unrestricted free agent.
What’s more is that despite receiving 6 trade offers for Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in no hurry to part with a foundational piece of their roster. Newly appointed GM Koby Altman said, “Right now Kyrie Irving is under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two or three years, depending on the last year. As of now he’s one of our best players and sure, we expect him to be in camp.”
For the sake of the discussion, let’s say the Cavs do trade Irving. I’m not going to worry about who they get in return, but rather look at where he might really make an impact. Super team nonsense aside, Irving fits into multiple teams. Of course, these teams are just my opinion, but here is a short list of where I believe Irving can make the biggest impact with the chance of building something special.
Jeff Teague is an amazing talent, but his meager 15 points per game pales in comparison to the 25 that Irving averages each night. The Timberwolves are working on building up their roster, and acquiring Jimmy Butler proves they’re serious about winning next season. However, working with Teague and Tyus Jones just won’t be enough to go the distance if Minnesota wants to make an impact on the league.
Offloading Ricky Rubio was the right move, but parting with Zach LaVine is risky if they don’t intend to keep the bsckcourt stocked with someone who has the competitive drive to keep up with Butler. Irving has championship level playoff experience, and he has the potential to make a lasting impact on the Timberwolves’ young and incredibly talented young roster. I believe this team is on the cusp of something truly great so I would love to see them get a guard who can help take them where they need to go. The Timberwolves have expressed their interest in acquiring Irving, but time will tell if Irving is just another super team seeker, or if he wants to build his own empire.
There are conflicting reports on whether or not the Miami Heat have made an offer for Irving, but regardless I do think he would fit in well on that team. The Heat have been in rebuilding mode ever since the mass exodus of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh left the roster in shambles. However, coach Eric Spoelstra has whipped his young group into shape quickly, and I believe if the Heat would have captured the 8th seed they would have taken the Cavaliers in round 1 of the playoffs last season. You may remember the Cavs mysteriously struggling at the end of the season, ultimately falling to 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Well, simultaneously, the Heat were performing very well and looked to be in prime position to take the last playoff slot in the East. I still believe the Heat had their eyes on LeBron James, and he knew it. If I could make any playoff match-up from history happen, it would be that one.
However, that was last season. This year Miami is in prime position to continue working toward a playoff spot, but they may be missing a key piece or two. One of those pieces is a someone who can lead the troops on the court much like James did. Who better to fill that role than Kyrie Irving? Irving is an NBA champion and has worked with James for years so he knows how to fill the strong leadership role that the Heat once had. Think of the rivalry between the Heat and the Cavs if this trade were to happen! Advertisers, get out your checkbooks now–these games are going to be hot.
New York Knicks:
It’s been a while since I’ve railed on Carmelo Anthony, so let me take a moment to explain my disdain for this type of player. (I know, here we go again.) Anthony is an incredible player, but he does not, has not, and never will make his teammates better. Every team he plays for winds up in a downward spiral of playoff purgatory, and the problems are always someone else’s fault. Unless he plays for a team with a very strong leader in place, he will drag every team he plays for down with his ball hog tendencies and lack of leadership. Keep in mind that leading in points, rebounds and assists does not mean you are a leader of people.
Irving is one of the players that I believe Anthony would play well next to. Now, it would probably be the Melo and Irving show, but that’s pretty much what’s happening in Cleveland right now with Irving and James. The only problem New York would have is defense. The Knicks would need to procure someone who is able to come in and fight under the rim for rebounds and second chance points, but that’s not altogether hard to come by. I would continue to dislike the Knicks, but that is simply because Melo plays for them, and he won’t ever get my support.
Look, it’s fun to talk about all the interesting trades that would take place for Irving, but the reality is that I don’t think Cleveland is going to part with their superstar point guard. Twenty teams have allegedly been interested in Irving in the last week or so, and OF COURSE they have been. Irving and James led the Cavaliers to a championship over the Warriors almost single-handedly so it makes sense that Irving’s availability would stir up a little bit of interest. Cleveland could practically get anyone they wanted in exchange for Irving, but they’d be crazy to give him up.
The hard part for Irving will be sucking it up to play with James after making such a public spectacle of wanting to move on. I’m never a proponent of burning a bridge like this, but apparently Irving doesn’t mind cutting ties with the man who helped him win a ring. One thing is for certain, whether Irving stays or goes, Cleveland has some work to do to repair the bad press surrounding their team these last few months.