There have been a lot of headlines this off season in terms of trades and free agent signings. The emerging trend here has been teams improving and getting competitive. Even the Golden State Warriors, last year’s champions, were able to bolster their already formidable lineup. But out of all the off season noise, the reigning Eastern Conference champions Cleveland Cavaliers have been silent and out of trade discussions. That was until one of their superstars and franchise players made one of the most surprising and confusing announcements.
League Source Say…
ESPN reported that according to NBA sources, Kyrie Irving, one of the leaders of the Cavs, requested to be traded. According to the sources, Kyrie and his team asked Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to trade him. His preferred destinations were reportedly San Antonio, New York, Miami, and Minnesota. This was one of the most bizarre and shocking headlines this off season yet. The most peculiar assumption that you can take from all out of this is that Kyrie Irving no longer wants to play with Lebron James.
Blindsided and Disappointed
Lebron has been vocal about his disappointment at the lack of moves made by the Cavs this off season. But this trade request had him reeling. His statement about the entire Irving trade requests says it all. He says he was blindsided and disappointed that Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland. These feelings are sure to be mirrored by other Cavaliers players and the Cleveland fan base. Out of all the news to make it out of Cleveland, this was the last thing that anybody expected. Cleveland has a big three with Lebron, Love, and Irving. Lebron is definitely the top dog, but next in line is Kyrie and his crossovers. Was playing with Lebron that bad that he’s unwilling to play second fiddle on a perennial Eastern Conference Champ and a contender for the next couple of years?
Giving up the Throne
Kyrie has spent his entire career with the Cavaliers. They drafted him as the first overall pick in 2011, and he won the Rookie of the Year award for his freshman season. His first three years in the league were forgettable, with the team winning barely 20 games each year. Then in 2014, Lebron returned from Miami and led the team to three straight finals appearances and one championship. The Cavs were the undisputed kings of the East and they looked like they had a stranglehold on that title for the next couple of years. So why would Kyrie want to leave that situation for another team? Why would you give up the opportunity to play in the finals and challenge for a title in the next 1-2 years?
Last year was actually a career year for Irving. He averaged a career high scoring average of 25.2 points per game. And during an amazing finals run, he established himself as one of the top point guards in the league and the best finishing point guard in the NBA. But for all intents and purposes, he said he’s ready to move on from under Lebron’s shadow and become the focal point of a team. The 25-year old 4-time All Star may know something that we don’t. Maybe he caught wind of a trade that would change the makeup of the current Cavs roster?
Sensing a Sinking Ship?
Everyone has speculated where Lebron might end up after the 2018-2019 season. He will be 33 years old by that time, but he’ll still be one of the most sought after free agents. Kevin Love has been perpetually in the trading block of the Cavs management, and his advancing age does not bode well for his injury plagued body. That puts a countdown on the supremacy of the Cavs in the Eastern Conference. After the next two years, who knows what’s next? Maybe Kyrie wanted to get a head start in exiting Cleveland, and he didn’t want to sign an extension on a Lebron-less Cavs team and go back to leading a 20-win Cleveland franchise?
Among the teams that Irving asked to be traded for, only the Spurs are contending for a title in the upcoming season. But they don’t have the pieces to make this trade balanced. Minnesota has a slew of players to offer up but Cleveland might balk at trading pennies for a dollar. Miami has a young core and could offer up Dragic, an expiring, and future picks for Kyrie. But the team with the most to offer Cleveland at this point has to be New York. Carmelo Anthony is the best player that the Cavs can hope to land in exchange for Irving. If they can throw in a solid point guard, it might seal the deal. Unless Cleveland management asks for too much. (Porzingis)
Expect the Cavaliers to make some calls and see what teams have to offer for Irving, but don’t be surprised if they stand pat for a few days, or even a few weeks. Demanding a trade does not necessarily mean there’s a deadline, but it will force the Cavs to open up discussions and look even closer at trade possibilities. Kyrie’s announcement does not ensure his departure from Cleveland either. Remember, in 2005, Kobe publicly asked to be traded from the Lakers. The only difference here is that Phil Jackson was there to rein in Bryant and get him back to the Lakers. We don’t see anyone from Cleveland that has that kind of sway with Irving.