In the latest disarray within the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise, it has been reported that star point guard Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the franchise he has represented since 2011. With that, his desired locations were released as well: The Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, and the Miami Heat. Based on the aforementioned franchises, here is how likely it is that Irving will land in each of his desired locations.
Least Likely: San Antonio Spurs
I think it’s safe to say that the Spurs have been one of the most competitive franchises in recent NBA history, especially considering that they haven’t missed the playoffs since the 1996-97 season. With Gregg Popovich viewed as one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the sport, Irving would be a fool to not want to play here.
Sure, making the Spurs stronger than they already are can become bad news for the Cavaliers, but sending Irving to the Timberwolves or Spurs may be smarter for them in the long-run, as he would become one less NBA star that LeBron James needs to worry about competing against in the East.
This may be the least likely scenario to occur, just because the Spurs don’t have many trade pieces to offer. Aside from Kawhi Leonard, who the Spurs will likely never let go of, most of the current Spurs roster buys into and succeeds within the Popovich system.
The Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers have a familiar history to say the least, especially in regards to LeBron James. If he was dealt to the Heat, I believe that Irving would be above anyone else on the roster in terms of raw talent, including Hassan Whiteside. In what could be viewed as a reunion with Dion Waiters, I’m not shocked to see the Heat within the list of teams Irving desires.
In an already-weak Eastern Conference, Irving would bring the Heat, who just missed the postseason in 2016, to likely a top-four team in 2017. While I’m not sure the Cavs are in favor of assisting their competition in the East, I think it’s fair to assume that Irving won’t be dealt to the Heat of all eligible bachelors.
The Cavaliers roster has only gotten weaker, and by helping to improve the Heat, Cleveland is essentially shooting themselves in the foot. If any deal did take place, it would likely be seen as a package deal that would include sharpshooter Goran Dragic.
While the Timberwolves just recently went out and signed point guard Jeff Teague in free agency, when a player like Irving desires to represent your franchise, it would be smart to listen. With core pieces such as Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins, the addition of Irving would only make this franchise more exciting to pay attention to.
In order to trade for Irving, you would be accurate to assume that either Butler, Towns, or Wiggins would need to be offered within the trade. Along with Teague as well, the Cavs could make the best of their current situation by listening to what the Timberwolves have to offer.
While I’m not confident that the two sides can execute a deal in the near future, the Timberwolves will be a competitive team to watch out for, regardless of where Irving lands.
Most Likely: New York Knicks
The fact that Irving would desire to play for the Knicks instead of the Cavaliers really speaks volumes. After the report about Irving was released, the Cavs found out that Kristaps Porzingis is not on the trade block for New York. On the contrary, a rumor was released that the Knicks could possibly give up superstar Carmelo Anthony instead.
After the Knicks have seemingly made no progress to re-sign current free agent Derrick Rose, the franchise is still in need of a solid starting point guard. With Irving on the roster, he would obviously be viewed as the centerpiece of the franchise.
In my eyes, this is the most realistic scenario of the four options that Irving desires. While there is a large chance that Irving is dealt to an outside franchise that has yet to be named, the Knicks should be serious contenders within this deal.
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