It has been quite the NBA summer with blockbuster trades and free agent signings. Kyrie Irving’s recent trade demands just add to what has been an unpredictable off-season.
Cavs fans were hoping for a much better summer vacation. Instead, it has been filled with front-office drama and rumors of LeBron James bolting after the 2017-18 season.
When rumors surfaced of Irving demanding a trade, popular thought was it had to do with Irving not wanting to be left in Cleveland post-LeBron. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Irving’s demands have to do with his desire for a bigger role, and wishes to no longer play with James.
Irving reportedly gave the Cavs a list of preferred teams: Spurs, Knicks, Heat and Timberwolves. To be clear, Irving has no control over where (or if) he is traded. Cleveland could trade him to any team of their choice. Irving still has three more years left on his contract meaning he cannot use future free agency as leverage to choose his landing spot.
Irving’s $18.8 million salary next season is reasonable given the current NBA economy. However, it does make it difficult to find a fair deal where the salaries match. The Cavs could opt to dig their heels into the ground and hang on to Irving. Kobe Bryant once publicly demanded a trade, but Bryant retired having only played for Los Angeles.
While Irving may want a trade, he does not have much leverage. It will be up to the Cavs to see if they can get fair market value for Irving.
Here’s a look at five potential trade scenarios.
No. 1 Andrew Wiggins Goes Back to the Team That Drafted Him
Cavs Receive: Andrew Wiggins, Cole Aldrich, Nemanja Bjelica
Timberwolves Receive: Kyrie Irving
Minnesota is one of the teams on Irving’s list. For a deal to work, Andrew Wiggins would need to be included. This would be a difficult decision for Minnesota’s front office as Wiggins is on his rookie contract, and is still ascending into his prime.
Irving has also had his share of injury concerns over his career. However, a trio of Irving, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler would be competitive with some of the top teams in the NBA.
It would be a notable trade given the Cavs were the team that drafted Wiggins, but opted to trade him for Kevin Love after they signed James.
No. 2 Cavs Swap Kyrie Irving For Goran Dragic
Cavs Receive: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson and 2019 1st Round Pick
Heat Receive: Kyrie Irving
The Heat have the most young assets of any team on Irving’s list. This could make Miami the prime trade partner. Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson are two quality players that would fit with James. Dragic is a playmaker who has no problem scoring the ball, while Johnson is a solid three-point shooter.
No. 3 Cavs Trade for Carmelo Anthony & Future Picks
Cavs Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Kyle O’Quinn, 2018 1st Round Pick, 2020 1st Round Pick
Knicks Receive: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye
It may not seem like the most even trade, but the Cavs could entertain the idea of bringing in Melo to try to appease James. With the looming threat of James’ 2018 free agency, Cleveland could look to get a player like Anthony who already has a strong relationship with James.
The challenge is the Cavs would also have to throw in another player in order to match Anthony’s salary. With Anthony also a free agent next summer, look for it to take multiple picks for the Knicks to be able to pry Irving away.
No. 4 Spurs Send LaMarcus Aldridge & Danny Green to the Cavs
Cavs Receive: LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green, 2018 Spurs 1st Round Pick
Spurs Receive: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye
LaMarcus Aldridge’s value was once higher. He has failed to fully find his footing in San Antonio while the value of big men across the league is decreasing. Aldridge does have the ability to hit the mid-range jumper. The problem with Irving making the Spurs his top destination is San Antonio has very little tradeable assets.
Any deal for Irving would have to include Aldridge for the salaries to match. Cleveland likely would prefer a different package as Aldridge is a bit of a clunky fit with the current Cavs roster.
No. 5 Celtics Trade Trio of Players for Irving
Cavs Receive: Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart
Celtics Receive: Kyrie Irving
The Celtics have not been mentioned as a landing spot for Irving, but have enough young talent to make a run at him. With the drafting of Jayson Tatum plus the signing of Gordon Hayward, Boston has a plethora of forwards.
While the Celtics already have a point guard in Isaiah Thomas, it is feasible to think Irving and Thomas could play in the same backcourt. Boston has numerous future picks they could throw at the Cavs. One potential sticking point, how willing would the Cavs be to trade Irving to an Eastern Conference foe?