The NBA world had seemingly calmed down after the free agent frenzy, only to be turned upside down by the reports of Cleveland Cavaliers’ star point guard, Kyrie Irving, requesting a trade. Reports soon followed claiming that Irving is not content playing in the shadow of LeBron James. As the fallout between the two stars has circulated throughout social media, Irving’s preferred trade destinations are said to be the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Boston Celtics are also said to have interest in trading for the four-time all-star. Given all of the possible trade partners, here is how trades involving the suitor for Irving would affect the Sixers now and in the future.
San Antonio Spurs:
San Antonio Receives: Kyrie Irving, Walter Tavares
Cleveland Receives: Lamarcus Aldridge, 2018 Unprotected 1st Round Pick, Dejounte Murray
This is a move that could affect both the Sixers short-term and long-term futures. It means that Cleveland would be giving it one last shot (Aldridge is on an expiring contract) with LeBron, while looking towards the future. This trade would probably only happen if LeBron informs the Cavs he is likely going to opt out of his contract and leave in 2018 Free Agency. It also increases the possibility (like most of these trades would) of LeBron joining a young team such as the Sixers or the Lakers.
Miami Receives: Kyrie Irving, Channing Frye
Cleveland Receives: Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, 2020 Unprotected First Round Pick
I will admit that this move does not make much sense for Cleveland. Dragic and Winslow are nice players, but are nowhere near Irving’s caliber. However, since Kyrie is reportedly interested in a trade to Miami, they are on the list. This trade would make it more difficult for the Sixers to contend for a playoff spot next year. The trio of Irving, Waiters, and Whiteside is formidable in the East, and is probably good for a top 5 playoff seed. Down the road, this move gives Miami a piece to build around, and the ability to potentially compete with the Sixers in the playoffs for years to come.
New York Knicks:
New York Receives: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Receives: Carmelo Anthony (waives no trade clause), 2018 Unprotected First Round Pick, 2021 Top 15 Protected First Round Pick
This is a trade that may definitely occur. Melo wants out of New York and is part of the Banana Boat Crew, while the Knicks are seeking to get the most talent possible in return for him. Irving would certainly be a coup. This is a move that could really impact the Sixers short and long-term futures. Irving and Porzingis could be good enough to carry to Knicks into the playoffs this year, and with some savvy cap space maneuvering, the Knicks could add another star in free agency. If they acquire these players, the Knicks could be a force for the 76ers to contend with for years to come.
Minnesota Receives: Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Receives: Gorgui Dieng, Justin Patton, 2018 Top-15 Protected Oklahoma City Pick (if it does not convey 2019 OKC First Round Pick), 2018 Unprotected 2nd Round Pick
In my opinion, there is no way that this trade ever happens. Minnesota would be ill-advised to give up Towns, Wiggins or Butler in a trade. Additionally, Irving does not fit the aggressive defensive style that Tom Thibodeau is looking to implement. As for Cleveland, they would have no incentive to make this trade. If it were to happen, the trade would give the Sixers a shot to advance to the Conference Finals. As for the long term, the trade would solidify the Timberwolves’ position as a potential Finals opponent for the Sixers two or three years down the road.
Boston Receives: Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Receives: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, 2018 Unprotected Brooklyn First Round Pick
At first glance, this may seem Boston is giving up too much for Irving, but are they? Thomas is on the last year of his team friendly deal, and will ask for a max contract in free agency. Trading Crowder frees up more minutes for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This move all but ensures that Boston and Cleveland meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. This trade most likely prevents the Sixers from reaching the conference finals, but also means that they will have to contend with a loaded Boston team for years to come.
Phoenix Receives: Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Receives: Eric Bledsoe, Marquese Chriss, 2018 Unprotected Second Round Pick, 2018 Second Round Pick (via TOR) SWAP CLE gets Higher Pick, PHX gets Lower Pick
Something tells me Kyrie ends up in Phoenix. This trade could involve Josh Jackson, but the Suns are reportedly unwilling to give him up. I also think Cleveland would be hesitant to deal Irving to another Eastern Conference team (especially Boston). This trade still leaves the Sixers with a chance to reach the Conference Finals, but it makes Cleveland a deeper team and gives them some assets to play with. For the future, Phoenix still has plenty of cap flexibility, and could be a Finals contender in four or five years when the Sixers are really hitting their stride.
Overall, Irving being dealt to an Eastern Conference team would most likely be detrimental to the Sixers’ future. The fewer stars in the East, the better for the Sixers. Irving being shipped to a Western Conference team also helps the Sixers chances for a deep playoff run. Luckily for the Philadelphia, the Cavs would probably prefer not to deal Irving to another Eastern Conference contender. In fact, they do not have to trade him at all. Either way, the Sixers should hope Irving stays put or is suiting up for a team in the Western Conference next season.
Where do you think Irving ends up and what do you think Cleveland gets in return?
“Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo”