In which five Fear the Sword writers answer five questions about the Kyrie Irving trade saga.
1.Do you think it makes sense for the Cavs to have Kyrie Irving on the roster at training camp?
Chris Manning (@cwmwrites): Sure, if the Cavs are comfortable with some awkwardness or if they think there’s a workable scenario where Kyrie sticks around. There’s no need to flip him right away, so they can take their time with this one if the right deal isn’t there. The one issue with him being on the team, though, is that they begin to lose leverage the moment the season starts. Wait to long, and they’ll be where the Pacers were with Paul George.
Brad Ward (@Brad_Ward12): The Cavs and new General Manager Koby Altman have to be patient and get the deal that they want. They cannot settle for a trade just to get Kyrie Irving out of town. In order to negotiate from a position of power they have to be willing to bring Irving to camp. If they can’t get the right deal in the next month or so, it does make sense to bring him to camp.
Zack Geoghegan (@ZackGeoghegan): Unless they receive an offer that they deem worthy, I would say there is no need to push for trading him this offseason. He’s still under contract for two more years and his value is incredibly high at 25 years old. The Cavs need to focus on what makes the most sense from a team standpoint, and if that means keeping Kyrie at least until training camp begins, then that is exactly what they should do.
Daniel Rowell (please, do not at me): I don’t see how it could hurt. The Cavs didn’t really get their act together until the postseason in 2016-17 and this isn’t the first time a player’s status has been in limbo headed into camp (i.e. Thompson and Smith). The core of the team has been together so long enough that it’s not a big deal if Kyrie is there or not. I guess it is more a worry that the potential player acquisitions from trading Kyrie wouldn’t be at camp.
Justin Rowan (@Cavsanada): Does anything make sense with this team? It’s really hard to determine exactly what does and doesn’t make sense without knowing where the players and team stand behind closed doors. Are things with Irving and James so bad that they can’t be in a room together? Then probably not. How aggressive was Irving’s request to be traded? Does he want to be traded, or was it demanded? Are there offers that provide decent value as well as a short and long-term hedge depending on what LeBron does? I’m not sure. This is a total cop-out, but these are really things that Koby Altman needs to decide for himself.
2. Do you like that the Cavs are prioritizing a young player in trade talks?
CM: Yes. When LeBron left the first time, the team was barren of any good, young talent to rebuild with. Kyrie was is the insurance policy if LeBron leaves next summer — it only makes sense that they are seeking another when dealing Irving. The Cavs haven’t always learned their lessons, but it seems like they are this time around in this one instance.
BW: I understand why they are making a young player a part of their trade criteria, but I would be taking a different approach. LeBron James is a once in a lifetime player and things are going to be different when he leaves no matter what. The Cavs should be prioritizing players that can help them win right now. I think this agenda aligns with their objective to keep James in Cleveland better than an emphasis on youth.
ZG: I love it. I wish they would have had this mindset earlier when they were acquiring players such as Deron Williams or Jose Calderon. I honestly have no idea how much longer we will see this LeBron James but eventually, he will decline. Having no talented prospects once that time comes could be the difference between continuing with a winning franchise or being forced to start over. There aren’t many players available that the Cavs can bring in that make them better, that time has come and gone it would seem.
DR: I do not, but the Cavaliers kind of dug this grave as Zach has pointed out. The team has one guaranteed year left to compete with LeBron and a roster that is filled with veteran players. Getting younger would be wise, but adding a rookie to the mix wouldn’t really help them win this year and not make for the best locker room. I’d prefer the Cavs acquire draft picks and playoff ready players more than a rookie.
JR: Yes, I do. Inaction has consequences and LeBron’s refusal to commit beyond this season puts the team in a position where they have to protect themselves. I should be clear that it’s 100 percent LeBron’s right to do this and it’s probably a wise decision given the unpredictability of the Cavs front office. In a perfect world, a player like Andrew Wiggins or Khris Middleton makes a lot of sense as they have proven they can play in the league and provide a win-now benefit with future upside. But if you’re choosing between young and unproven, or a collection of proven, short-term assets with limited upside I would prefer a young potential cornerstone.
3. True or False: The Cavs could be better next season even if they deal Irving.
CM: This all depends on your definition of better. They will lose some of the one-two, overwhelming offense that has made them so good the last few years. But maybe they get better on defense and deeper at different spots if the right deal can be made. Maybe that helps against the Warriors. So, I say true with the caveat that it depends on what deal actually gets made.
BW: True. Change can be a good thing. The team as it assembled now may have topped out. Although Irving’s departure isn’t ideal, the introduction of multiple talented players to a team with James and Kevin Love on the roster could play out in a myriad of different outcomes. One of which is where they have an improved defense and bench. Those factors mixed in with an improved team chemistry could result in a better team as a whole.
ZG: False. At least, not next season. No matter who they trade for, they won’t receive a player as incredible as Kyrie - and as we’ve seen before - there is always a period where a new team will need time to mesh so they can play cohesive basketball. Even if the return value on Kyrie is more than expected, they won’t have another guy who can put up 40 points with LeBron on the same night. Fast forward a couple of years and who knows, but for next season, the Cavs would be worse without Kyrie.
DR: False. The Cavaliers best hope at getting better in the offseason was with Kyrie Irving, the younger member of the team and the player that still has the most potential. But instead of trying to find a way to beat the Warriors, Irving is trying to find a way out of Cleveland. With or without Irving, next season is a wash against the Warriors with Irving checked out.
JR: True. It’s possible that if the Cavs get enough quality pieces that outperform their previous season that the Cavs could be a better team. They would likely need two players that are ready to start next season and Kevin Love would need to look like Minnesota Love (production, not body mass) for this to happen. This dream scenario is probably very unlikely and if such a deal were going to come to fruition, the offer would likely have been made and accepted at this point. But it’s certainly possible.
4. How do you think the Cavs handled publicly discussing handled Kyrie’s future at Koby Altman’s press conference?
CM: The point of that press conference was to not talk about the deal and the Cavs, as a whole, have been tight-lipped about what’s going on. They aren’t tipping their hand at all, which is good. The question for me is this: Was the damage already done and uncontrollable before Altman and Dan Gilbert spoke? I’d say many there didn’t seem interested in buying everything they said.
BW: The Cavs handled the topic of Irving’s trade request the only way that they really could. It would not be a good thing for either Dan Gilbert or Altman to go into any detail as far as what they expect to happen with Irving, in fear that they tip their hand in any way. By saying they expect him to be in camp, it sets the precedent that they are willing to keep him if they don’t get the deal they are seeking.
ZG: I think it was appropriate. They never explicitly said what they were planning to do with Kyrie and it keeps controversies and rumors at ease. In order to maintain as much value as they can for Kyrie, saying less is always best.
DR: The press conference didn’t give me confidence that the Cavs are prepared to compete in 2017. The failure to resign David Griffin has left Koby Altman with a team that looks to be on it’s way out. The press conference just confirmed the status quo — this is a team that went to three straight Finals that will have trouble doing it again, especially without buy in from their second best player.
JR: It was fine. I don’t think many bought what they were selling but they didn’t make the situation worse which was always the best case scenario.
5. Pitch me your favorite trade offer for Kyrie Irving.
CM: This really does depend on what you think of Justise Winslow. If the Suns won’t give up Josh Jackson, a return of Winslow, Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson would be a good net for the Cavs. It a) gives you replacement starter, a young talent who ca defend and a useful wing who isn’t old. I’d also say getting off Iman Shumpert’s deal, in any deal, would be worth not getting a pick back. I’m also actively trying to not end the Road Trippin’ podcast.
BW: Cavs get: Khris Middleton, John Henson, Malcolm Brogdon, Eric Bledsoe,
Phoenix gets:Iman Shumpert, Thon Maker, first round pick from the Bucks
Milwaukee gets: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye, TJ Warren
The Cavs reload with impact players and an actual rim protector as their backup center doing a three-way deal with the Suns and Bucks. Khris Middleton fits in well at the off-guard position and is a very underrated player that is still only 25 years old. Malcom Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe can both play the point guard spot and having both allows the Cavs to limit Bledsoe’s minutes and attempt to keep him healthy. Brogdon is already a nice piece who can play both guard positions. And Henson would offer rim protection off of the bench. With the presence of all four players gained in the trade you are a much better defensive unit as well as much deeper team with Derrick Rose, Brogdon, J.R Smith, Jeff Green and Henson coming of off the bench. Most importantly, the Cavs could deploy bigger, longer, more athletic lineups in a would be match-up with the Golden State Warriors.
ZG: My personal favorite and the one I hope happens the most is a trade involving the Phoenix Suns. The Suns send Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson, and a future first round pick to Cleveland for Kyrie and Iman Shumpert. Bledsoe is another guard who can finish - and while he’s not as great a shooter as someone such as Goran Dragic (who I think is another player that could find his way to Cleveland if the Cavs trade Kyrie) - he is more athletic and a capable passer. Josh Jackson is the piece that this trade hinges on. Bringing in a young and talented prospect is exactly what the Cavs need if they want to continue being great for years to come, which is why a first round pick from the Suns would also be necessary.
DR: Dan Gilbert and Kyrie Irving to the Rockets for Beyonce and and Chris Paul, please. Get me off this Rocket Mortgage App thing.
JR: I personally love the Milwaukee deals centered around Middleton and Brogdon, but I’m going to go out of the box and go with players that have already been connected to Irving and nothing that’s publicly been shut down.
While the Nuggets aren’t willing to part with both Harris and Murray for Irving, moving one of the pair hasn’t been ruled out. So, here’s my deal. In this deal the Suns don’t mortgage their future on Irving and shed dead weight/salary in Tyson Chandler. Maybe the Nuggets help this deal by sending a pick to the Suns as well. In exchange they get one guaranteed year of Iman Shumpert, who has a player option, and an up tempo energy player in Kenneth Faried.
The Cavs get their starting point guard and Klutch connection in Eric Bledsoe, their promising young player in Jamal Murray, take on the Chandler contract and Denver gets a fantastic core in Jokic, Irving, Millsap and Harris.