The Cleveland Cavaliers’ reported interest in free agent guard Derrick Rose now makes a whole lot of sense. In an explosive report on Friday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst indicates that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. He no longer wants to play with LeBron James and wants a team to call his own.
Whether Cleveland actually gives in to Irving’s demands remains to be seen. But there will be a ton of interest in his services on the trade market. Here are Irving’s six likeliest destinations.
To say that Boston has a ton of assets to move for a star player would be an understatement. With two potential top-five picks in next year’s draft and two youngsters in the form of Jaylen Brown as well as Jayson Tatum, the Celtics could definitely make a strong play for Irving.
Though, the centerpiece in any potential trade sending Irving from Cleveland to Boston would have to be Isaiah Thomas. He’s slated to become a free agent following the 2017-18 season and would serve as a solid replacement for Irving.
Boston would have to likely add a third team to this deal while sending one of those valuable 2018 picks to said squad. In turn, Cleveland would be inclined to add another proven starter to go with Thomas. This remains the likeliest of all potential outcomes.
New York Knicks
ESPN Sources: On Kyrie Irving front, Cavs were given four preferred landing spots: New York, Miami, San Antonio, Minnesota.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 21, 2017
While the Knicks themselves might not really be a desirable landing spot, New York is one of the cities that Irving reportedly would love to play in. This makes some sense in that Irving would like to have a team to call his own.
He’s apparently done with being that second man. For the Knicks part, it’s not a secret they want to add star power after what has been a drama-filled past couple seasons. Irving would fit that model and more. Let’s not even mention the fact that New York has been in the market for a point guard.
Interestingly, the Knicks and Cavaliers have been linked to one another for some time now. That has primarily concentrated on Carmelo Anthony heading to Cleveland — something LeBron himself has advocated for in the past (more on that here).
Could an Anthony-for-Irving trade work straight up? That’s highly unlikely considering Anthony is in the back end of his career and Irving has yet to even hit his prime. Such a deal would likely have to include New York sending draft pick assets to a third team, who would then trade a proven veteran to Cleveland. It’s a complicated scenario, but one that can be hashed out in no time.
San Antonio Spurs
Much like New York, it looks like San Antonio is a prime landing spot for Irving. Even after re-signing Patty Mills, the Spurs definitely have a need at point guard. Adding someone of Irving’s ilk to go with Kawhi Leonard would surely make the Spurs a true contender to take out the three-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors.
The issue here is San Antonio might not have the necessary assets to send back to Cleveland in what would be a blockbuster trade. The Cavaliers were said to be interested in LaMarcus Aldridge, but in no way is he going to be the central figure heading back to the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Maybe Danny Green and a couple draft picks to go with Aldridge could get it done. Even then, we’re pretty sure the Cavaliers would entertain better offers elsewhere.
What we do know here is that San Antonio has one of the best run organizations in the professional sports world. If any team can get water from a rock in a trade, it would surely be the Spurs. And with a greenish general manager calling the shots, anything is possible in Cleveland.
Despite just signing free agent Jeff Teague to a huge contract, Minnesota makes sense as a potential landing spot for Irving. It would likely have to include him moving to the two-guard position with Jimmy Butler taking over at small forward.
Interestingly enough, any deal sending Irving to Minnesota would have to include Andrew Wiggins making his way back to Cleveland. Remember, the Cavaliers dealt Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love shortly after selecting him No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins’ inclusion in this trade would mean a move from his natural small forward position to shooting guard. It could make for a solid one-two-tandem with James.
One would also have to wonder if Minnesota might be forced to part with other pieces to bring in Irving. As to where Kyrie has proven to be a great two-way player, Wiggins is still of the one-dimensional variety. That could be an issue when it comes to working things out here. Then again, maybe James himself wants to see what could have been with Wiggins. The two would be absolutely dynamic on the offensive end of the court.
Portland Trail Blazers
While the Blazers have been busy recruiting Carmelo Anthony, there’s a darn good chance the team could make a strong push for Irving. Sure the back-court tandem of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard has proven to be dynamic. But the rest of Portland’s roster has struggled to help these two out. It’s led to the team not showing itself to be competitive in the playoffs over the past two seasons.
Maybe Portland simply decides to shake things up by moving McCollum for Irving. This would enable Lillard to play off the ball more than he has in the past. That could lead to the youngster challenging for the NBA scoring mark on an annual basis. This is just how good of a shooter Lillard himself is.
From a Cavaliers perspective, McCollum would give the team a true No. 2 scoring option to go with James. It would also end the team’s consistent struggles at the two-guard position. If the math works and Cleveland can get more than just McCollum, this is a trade that almost makes too much sense.
Blow it all up. Even after three consecutive trips to the Finals, it appears that the Cavaliers’ future is iffy. Not only has Irving requested a trade, James himself might sign elsewhere as a free agent next summer. So, why not just blow this entire thing up right now?
Any trade sending Irving to Philadelphia would include rookie No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz heading to the Cavaliers. After that, Philadelphia would have to sweeten the pot with future draft pick assets — something it definitely has. The idea of teaming Irving up with J.J. Redick, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid has to be super enticing for the brass in Philadelphia.
From Cleveland’s perspective, there’s surely a lot to look at here. Should James move on after this upcoming season, the team would go into full-scale rebuild mode. Why not add a potential star of the future in Fultz for a player in Irving who apparently wants out of dodge? This would be a win-win scenario.