With news coming out of Kyrie Irving requesting a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Miami Heat listed as an option, we examine a few trade possibilities.
On a sleepy, late Friday afternoon, the NBA world was abruptly awoken with a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst — one pertaining to the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Had Cleveland finally hired a general manager?
Did Derrick Rose agree to terms with the team?
Had some sort of trade been conjured up by acting general manager Koby Altman to help bolster the rotation around Cleveland’s Big Three?
Unfortunately for Cavs fans, the answer is something far more grim. According to Windhorst, Kyrie Irving, the team’s star point guard, has requested a trade.
As the dust settled after that bomb of a report had been dropped, many began to wonder: What could Irving possibly be thinking?
Apparently, it’s as simple as the Duke product wanting to carry his own team, rather than live in LeBron James‘ shadow anymore. In Windhorst’s own words:
"“The request came last week and was made to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Irving has expressed that he wants to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James, sources said.”"
Rather shocking, considering the Cavs won a title just two years ago, and have dominated the East since LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love came together back in 2014. Plus, the 6’3″ ball-handling magician averaged a career-high 19.7 shot attempts per game last season –it’s not like he’s hurting for looks.
And even more shocking? The Miami Heat are reportedly one of the teams on Irving’s radar. At least, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN:
For all the swipes at Pat Riley‘s inability to close on free agents since Miami’s own Big Three disbanded, it’s astonishing how often the Heat still find themselves on elite players’ short lists. But I digress.
Potential trade scenarios
Now, for Heat fans, the question becomes: What can Miami offer Cleveland for Irving that would make sense?
It’s a tough exercise, made even tougher by the fact that freaking Paul George got traded for a bloated contract (Victor Oladipo) and a player who struggled in his only year of NBA basketball (Domantas Sabonis) just three weeks ago; who knows what a player’s true value is these days?
Nevertheless, one potential package Miami could send that is ESPN Trade Machine-approved features their own starting point guard, Goran Dragic and athletic wing, Josh Richardson. In this scenario, the Cavs would receive a very solid replacement for their own star floor general, as well as an excellent two-way wing on an extremely cheap contract.
Maybe in addition to packaging Dragic and Richardson, the Heat could also send Justise Winslow to sweeten the pot a bit. I would hesitate in doing so, however, seeing as how Winslow and Irving — two former Dukies — appear to have a pretty good relationship brewing.
It’s entirely feasible that along with getting to carry the load on his own team, Irving could be intrigued by the possibility of playing alongside his buddy Justise.
Or maybe they’re just friends and Winslow has nothing to do with the NBA champion’s interest in Miami. Either way, trying to acquire Irving won’t be easy for Riley and co.
Realistically, it’ll take a miracle
Apologies in advance, but I have to rain on the parade just a bit. Due to a total lack of movable assets (at least at the moment), it’ll take a minor act of God for Irving to land in South Beach anytime soon.
A few factors hamper any potential Heat offer:
- Miami can’t trade away a first round pick until 2023 due to CBA restrictions.
- Miami can’t send James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk or Dion Waiters anywhere until at least Dec. 15, since all three just signed new contracts with the team. (That damn CBA and its restrictions again.)
- The Heat also can’t trade rookie big man Bam Adebayo anywhere until July 31 — A.K.A. one month after Miami originally signed him, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
- And finally, another great point brought up by Marks: Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract; the Cavs can literally trade him wherever they want.
Barring Cleveland taking the first decent offer it sees, it’s tough to envision Irving in a Heat uniform.
Then again, no one would have guessed Oladipo and Sabonis would have been enough to land George in Oklahoma City either.
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What’s more, Irving definitely put the pressure on Cleveland by letting this bit of news leak so publicly. Maybe Cavs owner Dan Gilbert — a known hot-head — gets frustrated with the situation and allows his team brass to ship Irving wherever he wants.
Miami doesn’t have the future assets to entice Cleveland, that much is for sure. But as far as players who can contribute to winning right away, the Cavs could do far worse than acquiring Richardson and Dragic.
The former has the makings of an elite 3-and-D wing on a team-friendly contract, while the latter can carry some of the load offensively when James sits, and turned himself a deadly spot-up shooter from beyond the arc last season.
Whatever actually ends up happening is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: This NBA offseason has not disappointed. And the Heat have been in the thick of things every step of the way. Maybe this time they’ll get lucky and actually land their guy.