The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a mess this season. The coach has been a joke and the locker room has been a playground. The result is a playoff hopeful team sitting near the bottom of the league standings with March right around the corner.
The lone bright spot for the Cavs? Twenty-one year-old point guard Kyrie Irving.
ESPN is now reporting that Irving wants out of the debacle in Cleveland. Here's a clip from Brian Windhorst's piece:
If Kyrie Irving truly wants to be on a different team next season he can probably make it happen. The Cleveland Cavaliers will offer Irving a maximum contract extension once they're allowed to on July 1, and if he hasn't signed it by October, the team will likely be forced to trade him before the Oct. 31 deadline for third-year players to extend their contracts.Man, it sucks to be Cleveland, but what could this mean for the NBA?
Unless you count Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love was previously the only star thought to be obtainable via trade this summer. We knew that list would grow, and now we can add Irving to it. Although Irving won't be moved around the draft, if he does not sign that extension, he could be dealt right before the season much like James Harden was shipped to Houston.
Irving will be on the books for a very affordable $7 million next season before becoming eligable for a five-year extension that will exceed $80 million. We have beaten to death the idea of Love coming to Boston - time to examine the option of bringing in Irving.
Is it worth Danny Ainge trading for Irving?
It depends on a lot of outcomes, fortunately those outcomes will have time to play out before this trade would become a possibility.
The first thing to watch for is Boston's top draft pick. If the pick is a guard like Dante Exum or Marcus Smart, that leaves almost no reason for Boston to pursue a player like Irving. Unless of course that draft pick were made part of the Irving deal - unlikely with a huge extension coming for Kyrie and the friendly contract that the rookie guard would be on. Remember, there is a reason GMs don't trade away first-round-picks at the deadline anymore - rookie contracts are gold in the NBA. If you're Nets GM Billy King you do the responsible thing and just trade them all away at once in the summer.
The second thing to keep an eye out for is if the Celtics re-signing Avery Bradley. If Bradley is back in Boston there is very little chance Irving could be brought in to be part of a three-guard rotation with Rondo. Much like the draft pick, Bradley could be swapped in a deal for Irving, but again is just as unlikely. The Celtics will need to make a decision on Bradley much before an Irving trade would be an option.
Finally, what if Rondo is moved on draft day? This would obviously clear a ton of room for Irving to come to Boston and re-sign on a max deal. It would also give Boston tons of assets on top of the ones they already have to use in a deal for Irving. This could work. . . it would almost be as if. . . wait for it.
Could a Rondo-Irving swap work?
The short answer - yes! Boston is stocked with picks in upcoming drafts and Cleveland is a mess. Those are facts. If Cleveland feels they need to move Irving, and Boston thinks they can sign him long-term, this is a win for both sides.
Cleveland would get the highest return possible for Irving in a Rondo deal. None of these Rondo trades that have been rumored worked because Boston would be getting pocket change on the dollar in return. Mediocre draft picks and a marginal young player don't pry superstars away from teams. But another superstar? Cleveland would have a hard time saying no if they become that hard pressed to trade their young star.
Boston goes from a 28-year-old point guard who has questionable leadership and attitude, to a 21-year-old point guard coming off of a career season. Even if you are one of Rondo's biggest fans, with all the future draft picks Boston possesses, you have to say yes to bringing in a player who is arguably more talented and seven years younger.
The money would have to even out, and Cleveland would want some compensation for getting an older player with an expiring contract. How about this:
Boston gets: Kyrie Irving, Tyler Zeller and Alonzo Gee.
Cleveland gets: Rajon Rondo and the most favorable 2015 first-round-pick between the Celtics or Clippers.
Boston now builds around their pair of 2014 first rounders, Jared Sullinger and Irving (who has agreed to an extension for roughly 5/$80, rather than Rondo's roughly 6/$108 max contract). If Boston can land a top-three pick, they immediately become one of the most talented young rosters in the NBA.
Could Rondo and Irving play together?
Sure, as long as one is willing to move off the ball, and that would have to be Irving. Both players like to have the ball in their hands, but Rondo is the pass-first player. If Irving could transform his game to play shooting guard almost full-time, this would be a success.
Irving has played out of position at times for the Cavs though, which is encouraging. The non-basketball related problems are what make this scenario unlikely. If Boston has to pay both Irving and Rondo, it leaves them very little room to both fill out their roster, and pay players like Sullinger and their 2014 top draft pick (if Ainge hits on it) when the time comes.
On the other side, if Rondo or Irving end up leaving in 2015 then the deal is an immediate bust seeing Boston would only keep the duo for one season. Even if Rondo is the one who walks, trading the pile of assets it would take to pry Irving from the Cavs, and simply using him to replace Rondo after one year would not be enough of an upgrade for the price.
How about this for a trade that does not include Rondo:
Boston gets Kyrie Irving and Tyler Zeller.
Cleveland gets Jeff Green, Boston's 2015 and 2017 first-round-picks and Brooklyn's 2016 first-round-pick.
The one scenario in which Ainge maybe considers the trade? If Boston wins the draft lottery. Ainge could re-sign both Rondo and Irving and go after a championship while both Sullinger and Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid were still on their rookie contracts. It's a risk to shoot for such a small window, but a risk that would need to be considered.
So does Irving end up in Boston?
No way, it's just fun to talk about. Cleveland would be stupid not to do everything they can to keep Irving, especially with "the decision" so fresh in everyone's mind. But Boston is on the lookout for star-power, so when a star is rumored to become available, a discussion is always worth it.
What we do know is that three names we will hear mentioned a lot this summer are Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo.
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Julian Edlow 2/25/2014 07:28:00 PM Tweet