Kyrie Irving no longer wants to be part of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It has been reported that Kyrie doesn’t want to play next to LeBron James anymore. Instead, he wants to be the focal point of a team.
What really doesn’t make sense to me, is the destinations Kyrie Irving has requested to be traded to. He requested being traded to the Knicks, Heat, Spurs, and Timberwolves. No matter what team Kyrie is traded to, they’ll have to give up something significant to get him. Each possible destination poses a problem for Kyrie. The problems each destination could bring makes me seriously question if Kyrie has thought this trade request through.
Keep in mind that this trade request is in the beginning stages. Would the Cavaliers actually trade Kyrie? I think they’ll trade him if they get the right offer. They’re not going to give him away for nothing. Which team is most likely to be the trade partner? Let’s take a look at what each team can offer, as well as how Kyrie Irving would fit with each team.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are the most likely trade partner for Cleveland. The Cavaliers are one of the teams Carmelo Anthony has said he’s wanted to play for. If the Cavaliers have already been wanting Carmelo Anthony, now they have the asset to make that trade happen. Swapping Kyrie for Carmelo leaves Cleveland with another star next to LeBron James. Cleveland would be getting something significant in return for their star point guard. I think LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony would be a good fit together. They’re good friends, so I don’t see any problems arising between the two. The Cavaliers may play a lot of isolation ball with Carmelo, but they already did that with Kyrie Irving anyway.
Along with being the most likely trade partner, the Knicks are also the most likely destination for Kyrie Irving to be the focal point. Kristaps Porzingis is a rising star, but I don’t think he’d overshadow Kyrie Irving in any way. The Knicks don’t have anyone else who could come even close to being the focal point. If I had to choose between Kyrie and Kristaps, I’d take Kyrie in heart beat.
While Kyrie would be the focal point in New York, this destination request doesn’t make sense to me. Kyrie Irving isn’t enough to make the Knicks a winning team. They’ll need a lot more than what they’d have to be taken seriously. Kyrie Irving has proven that he’s a clutch player throughout his career, but he has yet to prove that he can lead a winning team. In his first three seasons (without LeBron), the best record Kyrie led the Cavaliers to was 33-49. Since LeBron has been back in Cleveland, Kyrie has taken a back seat. That has led to winning. Kyrie has had the opportunity to be the guy when LeBron hasn’t played, but he still hasn’t helped them win. I don’t have the exact record for when LeBron doesn’t play, but I can tell you that the Cavs weren’t a winning team without him. If Kyrie cares about being the focal point over winning championships, then I guess New York makes sense.
This is the next best destination for Kyrie if he wants to be the focal point. The most recognizable player on the Miami Heat, is Dion Waiters. Waiters had one of the best seasons of his career while averaging 15.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 42.4 FG%, and 39.5 3pt%. Those aren’t focal point numbers by any means. Kyrie Irving could come in and instantly be the best player on the team.
While Kyrie Irving would be the focal point, the Miami Heat play more of a team style of basketball. They play basketball in a similar style to the Warriors, just without four All-Stars. I think this team style of play would take away from Kyrie being the focal point just a little bit. While I do think it would be good for Kyrie to play in a more team oriented offense, I don’t think that’s exactly what Kyrie is looking for.
The lack of star power for Miami makes it less likely the Cavaliers will trade him there. The Cavs will want something big in return for Kyrie, and I’m not sure Miami can offer that. The Cavaliers would get some key role players from Miami if they decided to go this route. Their downfall last season was their bench. The bench was awful. A trade with Miami would give Cleveland less star power in their starting line-up, but it would significantly improve a terrible bench.
San Antonio Spurs
There are two players of significance I can see the Spurs being willing to trade to Cleveland, Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge. The Cavs were in talks to acquire Danny Green earlier in the offseason, but that didn’t work out. Green is a good player, but he’s not enough to compensate for Kyrie Irving. The Cavs could trade for Aldridge, but I don’t think he’d be a good fit there.
As far as being the focal point, San Antonio doesn’t make any sense. As long as Kawhi Leonard is on the team, he will be the focal point of the Spurs. Being traded to this team would give Kyrie a similar problem to what he’s facing now. Kyrie would be taking a backseat to Kawhi. If Zaza Pachulia sprains Kawhi’s ankle again, then Kyrie can be the focal point. Otherwise, don’t even think about it.
Playing under Head Coach Gregg Popovich would be good for Kyrie. Much like playing in Miami, playing in San Antonio would teach Kyrie a different kind of basketball. Popovich would get the best out of Kyrie, but he would never unseat Kawhi as the focal point of this team.
Requesting to be traded to the Timberwolves makes no sense for Kyrie’s trade request reason. They currently have three stars in Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. How does Kyrie think he’s going to be the focal point of this team? Kyrie won’t stand out to the crowd among these stars. There’s too much star power for Kyrie to be the focal point here.
If the Cavaliers traded Kyrie to the Timberwolves, what would they get in return? The Timberwolves just formed their big three. They haven’t even played one game together and they’re already going to split them up? I don’t think so. The addition of point guard Jeff Teague also makes this less likely. He’s not a star like Kyrie Irving, but he’s a very reliable player.
Did Kyrie Really Request a Trade?
This is a surprising trade request in my eyes. Kyrie no longer wants to play with the best player in the world? Your loss Kyrie. There’s no other place where Kyrie will have as good of a chance at winning a championship. The Cavs have been to the Finals three years in a row, but it’s not because of Kyrie. The best chance Kyrie will have to win a championship is with either Minnesota or San Antonio, but I don’t see either team giving up something that Cleveland wants. The best fit for Kyrie if he wants to be the focal point, is the New York Knicks, but he won’t be on a winning team there. Kyrie may have his trade request granted, but I don’t think this is a smart move on his part.