Now that Derrick Rose has officially agreed to sign with the Cavs on a one year deal, one can reasonably assume they are done signing new players to their rosters. But there is still a possibility of a trade. Over the past few days, it has been leaked that Kyrie Irving wants out of LeBron’s shadow and would like to be traded to a new team. Apparently he wants to be able to prove he can lead a franchise on his own, which I don’t blame him for. At the same time, being on the Cavs gives Kyrie the best chance at winning a title (unless he were to be traded to the Warriors, which isn’t going to happen). That being said, the Cavaliers have two options: keep Kyrie, hope the locker room doesn’t fall into dysfunction, and cruise to another finals appearance, or trade Kyrie and hope the pieces they get back give them a better shot against the Warriors. I’ll go in-depth into each option.
Option 1: Keep Kyrie
This would be a risky thing for the Cavaliers to do: after what Kyrie has said, I find it hard to believe that him and LeBron would be able to pick up right where they left off. This could potentially divide the locker room, and that’s the last thing the Cavs want to happen. Not only this, but Kyrie’s value is at an all time high: he has two years left on a great contract, and the Cavaliers would almost certainly get more for him now than they would at the trade deadline or next offseason. If they choose not to trade him and keep their team as is, I’d predict their season to be pretty similar to last. They’d cruise through the regular season, resting the Big 3 and Rose throughout, sweep their first two playoff matchups, lose a game or two to the improved Celtics, then lose in 5 or 6 to the Warriors. While Rose is certainly an improvement to Deron Williams, I don’t think he alone pushes it to a 7 game series.
Option 2: Trade Kyrie
Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have a starting-caliber point guard in Derrick Rose, Kyrie is much more expendable than he was before. I’m not saying the two are equal, Kyrie is a phenomenal player and impacts the game a lot more than Rose does. But it’s not like Rose is a Mario Chalmers type player. He can score, rebound, and isn’t a terrible playmaker. He would certainly put up good numbers in the Cavs system as a starter alongside LeBron. That being said, the Cavaliers have no incentive to trade Kyrie unless a) LeBron wants him gone, which I doubt, or b) they can get equal or better value in return for him. So, let’s think of some trades that I could see happening. Before we do that, let’s consider the teams Kyrie stated he’d want to play for: Miami, New York, Minnesota, San Antonio. Of those teams, I see two that could get him: New York and San Antonio. The reason why I don’t think the Timberwolves get him is that the Cavs wont accept a deal without Wiggins, Butler, or Towns, and I see no scenario where the TWolves trade one of them. The Heat, for me, just don’t have the assets. Dragic and Whiteside are nice, but both have huge contracts and aren’t worth losing Irving for. The teams I could see Kyrie landing on include the Spurs, Knicks, Suns, or maybe, just maybe, the Pelicans. If it isn’t one of those teams, my guess is he will stay put.
Trade 1: Cavs receive two stars for the price of one
This first trade has been rumored to have been discussed to some extent, and I actually think it makes sense for all teams involved. In this trade, the Cavs, Suns, and Knicks are involved.
- Suns get: Frank Ntilikina, Willy Hernangomez, Future Cavs 1st Round Pick
- Suns give: Eric Bledsoe
- Cavs get: Eric Bledsoe, Carmelo Anthony
- Cavs give: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Future 1st Round Pick
- Knicks get: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith
- Knicks give: Frank Ntilikina, Willy Hernangomez, Carmelo Anthony
If one team were to say no to this deal, it’d be the Knicks. They’re giving up Carmelo and two solid prospects. But, Melo wants out. He’s said publicly he would waive his No Trade Clause for the Cavaliers. And if you’re getting Kyrie, there’s no need for Frank. Kyrie would give the Knicks a bona fide star who is young, wants to play there, and sells tickets. You’re not getting that in a Ryan Anderson trade with the Rockets. The Suns, while getting rid of a very good player in Bledsoe, still accept this trade for one main reason: Bledsoe doesn’t fit this team’s timeline. Ntilikina, Hernangomez, and the pick all do. The Suns are a young team who should peak in 4-5 years, when Bledsoe will be on the decline. And, of course, the Cavs. While they’re getting rid of the best player involved in this trade, they still improve. Melo is a pure scorer, and Bledsoe is a defensive dog who can also shine on offense. I think a lineup of Bledsoe-LeBron-Melo-Love-Thompson is a lot scarier than a lineup of Kyrie-J.R.-LeBron-Love-Thompson.
Trade 2: Spurs make a move
This is another three team trade, involving the Spurs, Suns, and Cavs. I don’t think this one is as likely to happen as the one above, but I still think it’s decent.
- Suns get: LaMarcus Aldridge, Iman Shumpert, Bryn Forbes, Portland Trail Blazers 2018 First Round pick (Cavs own), Spurs future First Round Pick
- Suns give: Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler
- Cavs get: Eric Bledsoe, Danny Green
- Cavs give: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Portland Trail Blazers 2018 First Round Pick
- Spurs get: Kyrie Irving, Tyson Chandler
- Spurs give: LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green, Bryn Forbes, Future First Round Pick
Yes, I know the Suns get the short end of the stick here. But I can see them taking this deal. They get two first round picks, a young guard in Forbes, and a player who I think would do very well for them in LaMarcus Aldridge. Yes, he had a bad playoff series, but he is still a very good player and would help take the pressure off of future star Devin Booker. The Spurs do this for obvious reasons. Tony Parker won’t be playing for much longer, Patty Mills isn’t the answer at point guard, and LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t what everyone expected him to be when he first came to San Antonio. They also get a solid center in Tyson Chandler who can start and play at a high level. We all know Pau won’t be playing 82 games this season and the Spurs don’t really have a good backup behind him right now. For the Cavs, this is a way to cut losses. As I’m writing this, it’s been reported that Kyrie and LeBron are not on good terms and the situation has turned hostile. Trading Kyrie for two bulldogs in Bledsoe and Green makes the Cavs’ defense a whole lot better. Bledsoe-Green-LeBron-Love-Thompson would not be fun to play against.
Trade 3: Pelicans bail on the two-big approach
Of my three trades I’ve created, I think this is the least likely to happen, by a wide margin. The Pelicans only saw half of a season of the Davis-Cousins combo, and they just gave Jrue Holiday a lot of money. Not to mention getting Rondo on a one year contract. But a Kyrie Irving-Anthony Davis combo would be tempting. Especially since there’s no promise that Boogie comes back after this season.
- New Orleans gets: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye
- New Orleans gives: Demarcus Cousins, E’Twaun Moore
- Cleveland gets: Demarcus Cousins, E’Twaun Moore
- Cleveland gives: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye
This would be an interesting trade for both teams. Pairing LeBron with a big as talented and diverse as Cousins has never been done before (sorry, Bosh) and I think they’d shine together. Ditto Irving and Davis. The problem here is the guard situation in New Orleans and the center situation in Cleveland. Would Thompson be as effective coming off the bench? He’d be making a whole lot of money and I doubt he’d get a ton of playing time. In New Orleans it isn’t as big of a deal as you can just always have two of the three guards on the court at the same time (Rondo + Holiday, Holiday + Irving, Irving + Rondo). But you have to wonder if Rondo would be very happy about coming off the bench. While this trade would be quite interesting, I just don’t see it happening.
If I was the Cavs GM, I’d take trade #1 if it is available, and if it isn’t, I’d grit my teeth and hold on to Irving. However, my guess is that Irving will be gone in less than a week. Cleveland has to do everything they can to convince LeBron to stay next year, and if LeBron wants Kyrie gone, Kyrie is gone. It’s just a question of where, when, and for what.
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