It has already been a off-season of big name players changing teams. Chris Paul, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Gordon Hayward all changed teams, with three of the four by trade. Their prior teams all received a pretty underwhelming return for what is three of the best players in the NBA. If you include DeMarcus Cousins, which is four superstars traded with no sure things going back in return. The return in all these trades was nothing compared to the Carmelo Anthony or even Kevin Love of a few years back. In the past few days, it has come out that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. This might be he most shocking news of the summer. We knew Paul, George, Butler, Hayward and Cousins were all considering switching teams, but Kyrie has just been to three NBA Finals, winning one championship and a fourth NBA Finals likely this year. He must really hate playing with LeBron to request this trade at this time. For all the former players who say LeBron is the best teammate they have ever had, he has a tendency of reaming out younger players on his team. Mario Chalmers has been one in the past, but he was just a role player. There were multiple instances this year of LeBron berating Kyrie and Tristan Thompson in public. Kyrie is a top 20 player in the NBA who hit the shot that is responsible for James being able to win a championship in Cleveland. Kyrie may just feel it is his time, he is entering his prime and does not want to be a sidekick his whole career. The way Kyrie has gone about this is a little surprising, but he probably had no intention of this getting leaked to the public and reports seems to think that Kyrie believes LeBron’s camp leaked the information. Kyrie still has two years left under what is a reasonable contract compared to ones being signed this offseason. You would think the Cavs could get a great return for him, but Butler had a similar contract situation and we saw what the Bulls received for him. The Cavs are in no rush, or even obligated at all, to trade Irving, but you would think it would happen before the season so they can avoid the awkwardness of Irving and James being in the same locker room for training camp. Kyrie has given four teams he would prefer to join; New York, Minnesota, San Antonio and Miami, but without a no-trade clause, the Cavs should send him wherever they can get the best return. The big question for Cleveland is whether they want to trade him for young players and future assets or if they want to try to get players in return to make a run this year. A lot will depend on what they feel like LeBron is thinking in regards to staying in Cleveland past the upcoming season. With no young talent and very few future picks, the Cavs might feel it is best to recoup some young players in case James decides to leave. D-Rose is not the best fit next to LeBron, but his presence will allow the Cavs to get the best package in return instead of focusing on needing a point guard. Here are a few trades that could work for Cleveland. They are in the order that I would want as a return if I were Cleveland.
New York Knicks Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Phoenix Suns Receive: Willy Hernangomez, Channing Frye, Knicks’ 2018 First Round Pick, Top 8 Protected
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Eric Bledsoe
Some combination of a three-way trade between the Suns, Knicks and Cavs seems like the most logical way to go about a Kyrie trade. The question is which out of the Knicks and Suns is going to receive Kyrie. The Cavaliers would like to find a way to get Bledsoe and Carmelo without having to give up Kevin Love, but the Knicks and Suns will both want Kyrie and it might be tough to get these two teams to work together when one of them will be disappointed not getting Irving. If the Suns like Ntilikina, they may want him instead of Hernangomez and the pick, or they may want Kyrie and they can send assets to the Knicks such as Chriss, Bender, or Warren along with picks. Kevin Love could even get involved with Kyrie going to New York, Love to Phoenix and a fourth team probably having to get involved. There just seem like enough options of players and assets to get put in the deal, and a positive outcome for everyone involved, this just seems like it could work. The one holdup would be Carmelo not waiving his no-trade clause, which as of right now, seems to be an issue.
Boston Celtics Receive: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford
It is a shame that this trade works out for both sides because if they were not each other’s closest competition this would work. Horford and Thomas make the Cavs as good, if not better than they would be with Irving and Thompson, at least when considering a Golden State matchup. Thompson did not play that much in the Finals and Horford will fit better against Golden State. Irving and Thomas are both all offense, no defense kind of players. The Celtics would be able to embrace their youth movement and avoid having to pay Thomas next offseason and not have to deal with the last couple years of Horford’s contract, when he will likely be getting overpaid.
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich
Wouldn’t it be something if Wiggins ends up back with the team who draft him, playing alongside Kevin Love, who he was originally traded for? In terms of competing with Golden State, this is one of the better deals for now, and also the future. Wiggins still has time to develop. This would allow Wiggins to play the 3 and LeBron the one on offense and go with a big lineup. Or play the interchangeable at the three and four or even four and five and put Rose at the one. Dieng is an undervalued player whose solid midrange game and defense would be crucial come playoff time.
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: DeMarcus Cousins, E’Twaun Moore
This trade could just as easily be Irving for Cousins straight up but the teams will also swap bad contracts in this scenario. Irving should work better with Anthony Davis than Cousins does as well as being able to play alongside Jrue Holiday. The Cavs will land a superstar who would be a matchup nightmare for Golden State. They would not be able to play small against Cleveland with Love, LeBron, and Cousins all in the game.
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker
Kemba plays a similar style to that of Kyrie and would probably love getting back to his first championship since UConn. Kidd-Gilchrist will be able to guard Durant in the Finals and give LeBron a break. The Hornets will get a true superstar in Irving, who is a step above Walker.
Utah Jazz Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson
If only Minnesota hadn’t trade Rubio and I think we would be looking at Irving for Rubio and Wiggins right now. If Rubio was a 40% shooter from three, I think he would be a top ten point guard. He does everything else pretty great. He just can’t make a jump shot to save his life. We know LeBron is a big Joe Johnson fan and Favors would be able to split time at center with Thompson. This trade would give the Cavs one of the deeper teams in the league. Utah would get to replace the star they just lost with another without having to give up any irreplaceable pieces.
L.A. Clippers Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: DeAndre Jordan, Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker
This trade cannot happen until August 27th due to the Chris Paul trade. DeAndre Jordan is one of the few remaining bigs in the league that can drastically impact the game without having an outside shot. He would be able to stay on the floor against the Warriors unlike Tristan Thompson. The Cavs would likely have to move Thompson as well but they may decide going big is the way to beat Golden State. A frontcourt of Jordan, Love and LeBron would be one of the best of all-time. Adding in Beverly and J.R. and you have a lineup that could possibly contain Golden State and you cross your fingers and hope LeBron can carry the offense enough. .
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Jerryd Bayless, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington, Dario Daric, Sixers’ 2018 First Round Pick
If the Cavaliers were not competing for a championship this year, this would be a great return. Three young players, a veteran and what will likely be a pick in the late teens. The problem is that Okafor would not play against Golden State, Saric and Love are similar players and Bayless is not an upgrade over someone they could get cheap from free agency. Covington is one of the more underrated players in the league and he would help LeBron a ton on defense, but unless the Cavs are throwing in the towel on this season, I think they pass on this. The Sixers do have the assets to be a third team in any three team trades.
Denver Nuggets Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, Gary Harris
The Nuggets have been collecting assets to make a move like this for a while. This would hurt their depth but the Nuggets have some young prospects that they are hoping will step up. For the Cavs, they are not getting a star in return but are getting back three solid rotation players. With Love taking on a bigger role in the offense to make up for Kyrie, they may decide that above-average rotation players are more important.
Miami Heat Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington, Justice Winslow
Dragic would be a nice fit next to LeBron and Ellington and Winslow give the Cavs a few more wings they can throw at Golden State. Kyrie would be happy going to Miami and Pat Riley will get the star he has lacked since LeBron left. Kyrie and Whiteside should be able to take this team to the playoffs. This trade isn’t likely to happen as I expect another team to make a better offer.
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Kris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks’ 2018 First Round Pick
Middleton is very underrated and will give LeBron an elite shooter around him. Brogdon seems like a player LeBron would love having around who can do a little of everything. The Bucks would get a true superstar to pair with the Greek Freak. A trio of Parker, Giannis and Irving will make some noise come the players.
Chicago Bulls Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Kay Felder
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Dwayne Wade, Robin Lopez, Bulls’ 2018 and 2019 First Round Picks
If you are not going to be competing for a championship, you might as well do what you can to keep LeBron happy and hope he decides to stay. Would the Cavs then find a way to add Melo as well? The Bulls may not want to give up picks when they just entered a rebuild but getting a star for two players they would probably prefer not to pay this year anyway is not a bad deal. The Bulls will most likely want some protection on these picks but I can’t see the Cavs doing this trade unless they were guaranteed a pick in the next two drafts. Seeing these picks become heavily protected and then turn into second round picks would be too little of a return.
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Brooklyn Nets Receive: LaMarcus Aldridge
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Jeremy Lin, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Danny Green
This trade does not help Cleveland now or in the future, with the Spurs’ picks likely being late in the first round. I just wanted to find a way for Kyrie to make it to the Spurs. If Brooklyn could pull this off, they will have done one of the most impressive rebuilds ever given what they started with.