Left and right, you have heard people take each side of the story here.
One, the side that is pro-Kyrie Irving. Oh, I understand his trade request. He already has a championship wants to have his own team. Those first few years, he was young and developing into today’s superstar. He’s so talented, arguably the toughest player to defend and he’s one of the best scorers in the clutch.
The counter for those statements, is that Irving didn’t even suit up for 10 games at Duke for Coach K. When he got drafted by the Cavaliers, he was either injured or the team was losing. They didn’t sniff the postseason picture until King James’ homecoming.
My take on it, I do understand how James Harden blossomed since being traded to Houston. Now the guy is a league leader in dropping dimes. I do see how out of this world Russell Westbrook was last season. I do recall how Derrick Rose took the Bulls by the horns for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. But I also see Irving, a guy that didn’t do much for Duke. A guy that didn’t have the franchise player type of effect when Cleveland selected him first overall. A guy that isn’t content after 3 straight Finals’ appearances and one title. What the hell?
Is he really at the point of pulling a Kobe Bryant? I mean, Shaquille O’Neal, as most veterans do, lost control of his weight and Kobe saw the decline coming. The work ethic dropped a level and Bryant wouldn’t let that pass. This isn’t the same situation while LeBron James is still the best basketball player around. The King has a trio of titles. No, he doesn’t add another ring by the end of every season, but he’s in the Finals every single year. James’ style of play allows Irving to just showcase his handles and score the ball. Apparently, he wants more.
I think part of it has to be James’ alpha-male influence, and the other part is the unimpressive front office. Let me keep it real by saying in a business world, a sport at the highest level, it’s all about revenue and results. That is the definition of LeBron James, revenue and results. Now, only one team is taking home the title each season, but the statistics, team success and Finals’ appearances are all the results that he delivers on. Without question.
Last summer I couldn’t get off the topic of player comparisons, one of which was that I prefer Damian Lillard over Kyrie Irving. Portland snagged the 8th seed in 2017, and they previously surprised the league by making the playoffs a couple of seasons ago after losing four starters. Of course, led by a Lilliard and a very good coach in Terry Stotts. So good, that LeBron publicly cast his Coach of the Year vote to Stotts after that campaign. Hence, why I would dial-up Portland’s digits to see if they would entertain a swap for Lillard.
I’m in the camp that sees that Irving is already in the best-case scenario, for his talent and for winning. Now, if his desire to play for his favorite team is taking precedence over everything else, then I can understand the passion for becoming a Knickerbocker. I won’t knock him for that. I will knock him for his questionable body work in the off-season, because there’s always something nagging him. I will knock him for being a hero-ball player, for being that one on one guy that kind of freezes out his teammates. I will knock him for his so-so defensive effort. Kyrie to the Knicks could be a similar, smaller version of the Melo era.
With 2 years remaining on his deal, I don’t blame him for wanting out of Cleveland. They drafted him, he didn’t choose to sign there, so I get that aspect. I don’t like how they’ve been run, since forever, they’re saving grace has been the transcendent greatness of LBJ. A guy like that can mask almost everything, which he did until leaving for Miami. LBJ, the hometown kid and 3-time champion, is non-committal on his future in Cleveland. There’s no wonder to Irving being non-committal as well.
From afar, I understand Irving. Get me out of The Land. King James may or may not leave, but I hate the fact that he holds his free agency over our heads. Free agents aren’t going to come here. I don’t like how the front office runs their business. We’ve had a coaching carousel despite recent success. Where’s the stability? Irving wants out now because next summer, LBJ may take his talent elsewhere, again. And he doesn’t want to go through that, nor does he trust the franchise. I think it’s more about all of that stuff than it is the on-court stuff with LeBron and company.
If Carmelo Anthony doesn’t waive his no-trade clause to go to The Land, what in the world do the Knicks have to offer? We can all understand why Melo wouldn’t want to go there, with LBJ’s free agency coming up and all. New York is adamant about keeping Kristaps Porzingis as a building block, and understandably so. What’s left? Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Willy Hernangomez?
Portland may not be willing to move on from Lillard. Phoenix can offer Eric Bledsoe but they want to hang onto rookie Josh Jackson. Would the Cavs really go for Miami’s offer of Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow? Although, that report was publicly refuted. What if Cleveland will accept an offer including Hassan Whiteside? Could you imagine how much a title contending team would benefit from an interior presence like that? A front-court of James-Love-Whiteside would be as good as they come. Rotate in Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green and they’rs set there.
That’s right, the Cavs picked up Green and Rose this off-season. Rose will start if Irving is traded. Green will be in the rotation, giving LBJ a breather and playing alongside him down the stretch. These are two under-the-radar moves that I like. Better if they can convince Kyrie to stick it out this year. Yes, I do see it as a plus to have a pair of play-making guards between Irving and Rose, but that’s not expected to be the case. Yes, I do see the possible issue of 3 ball-dominant players on one roster, but if they shared the ball they would get a bevy of open looks. Looking at you, Kevin Love.
What if Irving gets shipped to the West? Another star that leaves the East. It’s LBJ, a few stars still trying to carve their names into our households, and a bunch of young teams. It’ll be Cleveland, Boston, and then the rest, yet again. At least until the 76ers get some time to gel and develop together. Washington and Toronto are good, just not great teams. I guess Charlotte made improvements, but you get my point. Unless Phoenix throws in Jackson, or Melo is cool with joining the Cavs, it’s hard to see a worthy trade coming to fruition. After all, the Cavs have full advantage since Irving is still inked for 2 more years.
Other players come to mind for possible 3-team trades. DeMarcus Cousins is entering the final year of his deal with the Pelicans. There’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green of the Spurs. Maybe C.J. McCollum and Evan Turner of the Blazers. Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry down in Dallas. Denver’s Emmanuel Mudiay and Wilson Chandler. They can attempt to re-acquire Matthew Dellavedova with Jabari Parker of the Bucks, although J.P. has had several injuries. Isaiah Thomas and Jaylen Brown of the rival Celtics.
It could all be simple if the Suns were to agree swapping Bledsoe and Jackson for Irving. Or, it could all be simple of James retracted from his no-trade clause and the Cavs traded him. I know, crazy, right? Well, not if he’s going to leave anyway and he waived the clause. In that case, I wonder if Irving would reconsider staying or not. Love is still there, with a few shooters, and Thompson crashing the glass.