Apr 5, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) reacts after missing a shot in overtime against the Charlotte Bobcats at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving: The Potential For A Trade?

Everyone saw it coming.  It was only a matter of time until the rumors started to swirl around the Cleveland Cavaliers’ young point guard.  Since entering the NBA as the No. 1 pick in 2011, and even before that during his one year at Duke, Kyrie Irving has been a lighting rod for the media and fans alike.

From his injuries at Duke, to his injuries in Cleveland, his fights with teammates (most notably Dion Waiters), disagreements with coaches, All-Star appearances and an All-Star MVP, people can’t get enough of Kyrie.  He is a prodigious talent, coupled with an often mercurial personality; and it’s this exact combination that helps raise his ceiling as a player.  It’s also the reason why he has at times struggled to lead his team to success.

This summer is shaping up to possibly be the biggest of Kyrie Irving’s short career, as he will be eligible for his first extension.  The young point guard, who has the potential to be a franchise player, will almost certainly demand a max salary … and that is where things get most interesting.

There are many who wonder whether the Cavaliers are willing to offer Irving a max contract extension, and still others who wonder whether he would even accept such an offer from the Cavaliers.  If either of these are true, the two sides are moving dangerously quick towards one of two things: a break-up, or an estranged relationship that continues to move forward while resentment builds.

And so, the other teams are beginning to call … to see what, if anything, it would take to pry Irving away from the franchise that drafted him just three years ago.

It’s not shocking that teams are calling to ask, but it is at least a little surprising that the Cavaliers seem to be listening.  There must be at least some intrigue for David Griffin, the Cavaliers’ general manager, to see what Irving could return to Cleveland if he were dealt elsewhere.

With three years experience, Irving has never scored less than 18.5 points per game, has always had a player efficiency rating higher than 20, has worked at limiting his turnovers, and is still more than five months younger than the reigning Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams.  He is also close to two years younger than Damian Lillard.  His numbers, along with his age, speak for themselves about his current and potential place in the league:

Season Age G MP FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% TRB AST STL TOV PF PTS
2011-12 19 51 30.5 14.6 .469 3.6 .399 3.8 .872 3.7 5.4 1.1 3.1 2.2 18.5
2012-13 ★ 20 59 34.7 18.1 .452 4.7 .391 4.9 .855 3.7 5.9 1.5 3.2 2.5 22.5
2013-14 ★ 21 71 35.2 17.4 .430 4.8 .358 4.8 .861 3.6 6.1 1.5 2.7 2.3 20.8
Career 181 33.7 16.9 .447 4.5 .378 4.6 .862 3.7 5.8 1.4 3.0 2.3 20.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/2/2014.

When a player has been around a little longer, and has had limited team success, we often ignore their youth and their potential to continue to develop.  And although Kyrie Irving has been a sieve on defense, he could still easily develop into one of the top point guards in the entire league.

And that is who Cleveland is taking calls on … that is who, according to reports, they are at least considering what it would look like to trade.  Front office personal have lots of conversations that will never make it to the light of day; and generally speaking, it is the ones that are heard by the public that have at least made it to the exploratory stage.

A (very) young point guard, with a strong resume, the opportunity to develop further, a passion for the game, and several years of contractual control left (restricted free agency) will be a hot commodity if put up for auction.  It’s just a matter of whether the Cavaliers can find an offer that they like, and how worried they are about Kyrie wanting to skip town.

Either way, trade or keep, it won’t be an easy or quick decision for the Cavaliers.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving

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