The Cleveland Cavaliers have a little over a month until training camp opens up what could be the most important season in their history. Looming over the team for the moment is the unknown fate of star point guard Kyrie Irving, who has requested a trade out of Cleveland. After a flurry of rumors and an array of potential trade scenarios, things have quieted down significantly. However, it is likely just the calm before the storm.
The Cavs and new GM Koby Altman have held their ground and made their desired return on an Irving deal clear to suitors around the NBA. Still, no matter how many times team’s like Phoenix, New York and Minnesota rebuff the Cavs inquiries, there will come a time when they will be forced to put up or move on without Irving. As the days become numbered before training camp, expect teams to bolster their offers. The realization that the Cavs are not going to trade Irving just to get him out of town will lead to further consciousness regarding the opportunity at hand. A player of Irving’s caliber rarely becomes attainable outside of the NBA’s player-controlled free agency period. The Cavs will get the haul they are looking for, they just need to wait it out.
We have heard the Phoenix Suns come out and say they aren’t going to trade Josh Jackson, according to Arizona Sports 98.7's John Gambadoro. Let’s be realistic about this, even if the Suns were willing to trade Jackson, would they come out and say it? Of course not. What happens if they end up not trading a him? Now a team has to explain to said player why they were willing to include him in a trade offer. When an NBA team denies that they are going to deal a player, it means nothing. The first time a team is going to admit they are parting ways with a player like Jackson is when they call him to tell him he is traded.
The Cavs are getting offers that don’t meet the criteria they laid out. Sam Amico of Amicohoops.net reported that a GM in the league told him, the Cavs aren’t even close to getting teams “A” offers. Teams are testing the Cleveland front office to see what they will listen to and the Cavs have made it clear that they aren’t going to settle.
Things are going to get real as we make our way into September. Not only do teams have to take into account the immense talent that Irving brings to their team, but at some point front offices are going to have to make a business decision. According to NPD Group sports industry analyst Matt Powell, Irving has the best selling signature basketball shoe on the market. He is NBA2K18’s cover athlete and is immensely popular among young NBA fans. Irving’s presence would drive merchandise sales up and sell a lot of tickets in cities that sorely need it.
According to ESPN, the Denver Nuggets were last in the NBA in attendance in 2016-17, while the Minnesota Timberwolves were just behind them at 29th overall. The Suns finished 19th overall in the league with an average home attendance of 17,283.
There are a multiple organizations that stand to benefit on different levels from a trade for Irving. Destinations like Phoenix aren’t going to be able to sign players of Irving’s stature in free agency, making this a unique opportunity. And, if they could convince him to stay, the combination of Irving and Devin Booker could be attractive to other star free agents. Irving’s presence moves the needle for these organizations and they have to face that at some point. It is quiet right now, but the tough decisions are still to come for both the Cavs and the teams that covet his services.
Whether he is the player that puts you over the top and into contention or the reason you sell out every night, the days of low-balling the Cavs are numbered. The Cavs front office should remain steadfast and unwavering in their dealings. It will pay off in the end.