In a statement that is destined to fly under the radar and not be mocked by NBA media, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has weighed in on the future of Kyrie Irving and how the Cavs did in the trade.
Speaking to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, Gilbert discussed what he believes will happen next for Irving and the tough spot the Cavs were in:
“I don’t know, but I think Kyrie will leave Boston,” said Gilbert. “We could have ended up with nothing. Looking back after all the moves Koby made, we killed it in that trade.”
It becomes a melting snowball. We had to trade him when we did. What team would want Kyrie with only one year on his contract knowing he could leave after the season? You won’t get much back (under those circumstances).
So there’s obviously a lot to unpack here. I’ll start off by saying that when you trade a player like Kyrie Irving, there is no “winning” the trade. Star players are hard to come by and that’s why you find teams are willing to part with so much to acquire them.
That being said, the one thing we can look at is the job that Koby Altman has done adjusting on the fly. He was put in a tough position with Irving wanting out or having season ending surgery if he stayed. LeBron James had no willingness to try and help the situation and in all likelihood had one foot out the door.
From that position, he traded for the best offer that was available on the trade market even though it was to a rival franchise. When the pieces didn’t work out, he traded them for players that fit better and that were actually welcomed by LeBron. Even though most of those pieces were hurt by the time playoffs came around, it was just enough help for LeBron to make his final historic run to the NBA Finals.
After LeBron left, Altman then was able to flip the pieces for assets that align with the team’s new direction. Just two years removed from the trade, the Kyrie Irving trade tree is already a wild ride with the potential to keep expanding.
In that time, the Cavs have traded away Irving, Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert and their own first round pick. In return, they have received Collin Sexton, Ante Zizic, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Knight, John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, two first-round picks and six second-round picks. With the last four on that list all on expiring contracts that may be converted to future assets.
Now, Altman’s ability to accumulate these assets has been made possible by Gilbert’s willingness to take on bad contracts. A situation not every general manager has, especially when the on court product is so poor. But Altman’s adaptability and ability to get the most out of each asset has been impressive so far.
The tear down is easy. We saw Chris Grant do it before and accumulate assets along with bad salary before. David Griffin was able to cash in those assets to help create one of the best offenses in league history and bring a title to Cleveland. But to accumulate assets and then build a true contender from them is the tricky part.
With the foundation now set and a lot of pieces that could be in play, we will find out if Altman can take the next step and build something sustainable. If Irving leaves Boston, it likely means that both sides lost in the trade. But while Boston would be left figuring out what to do next, the Cavs at least have got a head start on the next chapter for their franchise.