5 Kyrie Irving Trade Packages Cavs Should Explore
Apparently, Kyrie Irving is tired of winning championships, qualifying for a super-max contract and scoring 25 points per game alongside one of the greatest players of all time.
He'd rather play for the New York Knicks. Seriously.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Irving has asked the Cavs to trade him so he no longer has to play under the shadow of LeBron James. It's a peculiar request, but it's one the Cavaliers will likely honor before the start of the 2017-18 regular season.
With two years and approximately $39 million left on his contract, Irving should fetch a nice return. Still only 25 years of age, he's a former Rookie of the Year, a four-time All-Star, an All-Star Game MVP and an Olympic gold medalist.
He recently enjoyed his best overall season in Cleveland, averaging 25.2 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals on 40.1 percent shooting from three. Whoever trades for him is getting one of the most brilliant offensive players in the game today who has the physical tools to become a good defender.
As what's left of the Cavaliers' front office works the phones, here are five of the best Irving trade packages they should explore.
Cavaliers Receive: PG Kemba Walker, G/F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Hornets Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Iman Shumpert
While Irving is the best player in this deal, Walker isn't far behind.
As the ninth overall pick in the same 2011 draft that saw Irving go No. 1, Walker put up career bests in points (23.2) field-goal percentage (44.4 percent) and three-point shooting (39.9 percent) this past season. Like Irving, he's a score-first guard who relies on a quick first step and great ball control.
Getting Walker to slide into Irving's old starting point guard spot would be nice, but trading for Kidd-Gilchrist makes the Cavaliers more Warriors-ready.
Irving's former high school teammate in New Jersey, Kidd-Gilchrist is a 6'7" premier wing-stopper who can guard four positions. He'd be perfect to put on the floor against the Warriors, switching seamlessly between their offensive weapons.
Cleveland also saves about $4 million this year while retaining both their new additions for at least the next two.
Kyrie Becomes the (Mountain) Man in Utah
Cavaliers Receive: SG Rodney Hood, PG Ricky Rubio, SF Joe Johnson, 2019 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Jazz Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Iman Shumpert
If Irving so desperately wants his star to shine away from LeBron James, why not go to a team that just lost its own?
After watching Gordon Hayward skip town for Boston, the Jazz need a star to pair with Rudy Gobert. Irving may not be wild about going to another small-market team, but there's not a no-trade clause to stop it from happening.
Rubio would make a fine starter among the Cavs' plethora of shooters and should get James a few easy baskets a game off backdoor cuts and in transition. Hood gives Cleveland a young player (24) with star potential, and Johnson becomes a great scoring option off the bench.
The move makes the Cavaliers far deeper and better defensively, even if they're the ones giving up a star. James liked Johnson so much in 2016 that he was willing to move to power forward full time should the seven-time All-Star had signed their after his buyout from the Brooklyn Nets.
If Irving doesn't like playing with James any longer, perhaps he'll enjoy the company of Joe Ingles better.
Delly Comes Home
Cavaliers Receive: PG Malcolm Brogdon, SG/SF Khris Middleton, PG Matthew Dellavedova, 2018 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Bucks Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Iman Shumpert
While there's always a hesitation to make deals in the same division, the Bucks are going to be a force in the Eastern Conference with a trade for Irving or not.
Let's start with Brogdon, who the Cavs would likely name their starting point guard. The reigning Rookie of the Year put up 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 28 games as a starter. He's more of a combo guard at 6'5", but playing alongside LeBron James would forgive that.
Middleton remains one of the league's most underrated players. He's 6'8", can play three positions, is a career 40.4 percent shooter from three and won't turn 26 until next month. The Cavs could use him as their starting shooting guard or off the bench as a versatile sixth man.
Even though Dellavedova had a tough first season in Milwaukee, we know how good he can be playing alongside James in Cleveland. The Cavs missed his grit and hustle last season, and he's proved capable of containing Stephen Curry for spurts. The Cavaliers should have just offered the roughly $4 million per year it would have taken Delly to agree to an extension in 2015, but that's neither here nor there.
Since the Bucks get to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Thon Maker while getting Irving, we're asking them to throw in a protected first-rounder as well.
Kyrie, Carmelo, Austin Rivers Switch Homes
Cavaliers Receive: F Carmelo Anthony, PG Patrick Beverley, SF Sam Dekker, 2021 first-round pick (via Clippers)
Clippers Receive: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Iman Shumpert
Knicks Receive: G Austin Rivers, SF Wesley Johnson
With Chris Paul now alongside James Harden on the Houston Rockets, what better way for the Clippers to retool than with Irving? Los Angeles originally owned the draft pick used to select Irving No. 1 in 2011, attaching it to Baron Davis in a salary dump they were soon to regret.
Cleveland gets a starter at point guard with the defensive-minded Beverley and at long last brings in Anthony to keep LeBron James happy. The Cavs also get Dekker, a 2015 first-round pick by the Houston Rockets, and a future pick from the Clippers.
The Cavaliers can go big with a Beverley-James-Anthony-Kevin Love-Tristan Thompson lineup or politely ask Anthony to be a star sixth man.
New York avoids a buyout with Anthony while gaining two potential starters in the process. Not only do the Cavs get a significant amount of talent back, but they also keep the Clippers at a high level to challenge the Golden State Warriors in the West.
Irving to the Desert
Cavaliers Receive: PG Eric Bledsoe, SF Josh Jackson
Suns Receive: PG Kyrie Irving
In this scenario, Cleveland gets another underrated point guard in Bledsoe along with Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick this past June.
Bledsoe enjoyed a career year in 2016-17, posting marks of 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.4 steals. He's one of the better defensive point guards in the league and is represented by LeBron James' agency, Klutch Sports. It was James who urged the Suns and Bledsoe to come to a contract agreement while the two worked out in Cleveland together back in 2014.
Bledsoe is a nice start, but the Cavs would need something more. Devin Booker is untouchable, which means either Jackson or small forward T.J. Warren could come into play. Both are young, athletic and like to attack the basket. They both would give Cleveland another wing to play against the Warriors or use in a future trade.
The temptation of an Irving-Booker backcourt should be all the motivation Phoenix would need to get this deal done.