Now that we’ve had time to process the fact that Kyrie Irving has demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s time to look at what those trades may look like.
It’s going to be a difficult path for the Cavaliers’ young general manager, Koby Altman. There will be immense pressure to swing for win-now moves to appease LeBron James and maximize his final season under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At the same time, 25 year old Kyrie Irving represented a reason for James to stay in Cleveland beyond next season. Moving a young, cost-controlled asset for a short-term window in which the team would still likely be worse than they were with Kyrie does not make sense to me. Any trade that uses Kyrie Irving to acquire Carmelo Anthony would be a disaster for the long-term outlook of the franchise.
I broke down some potential destinations in the video below. Please share your own versions in the comments, and don’t forget to like and subscribe to the WFNY YouTube page.
In this trade the Cavaliers can thread the needle between trying to win now and stay competitive in the future. Bledsoe is an underrated player who would not be a traditional fit next to LeBron James (he’s not a great three-point shooter) but provides other interesting qualities; a team with Bledsoe at the point certainly upgrades itself defensively. Perhaps allowing Kevin Love to take on a larger offensive role would better maximize the roster, as he would maximize his strength rather than be exploited for some of his weaknesses. Bledsoe can still score and handle the ball, but would also bring much better defense at the point guard position. Warren is a big body who can get some buckets and creates turnovers. He can play multiple positions and still has opportunity to grow, though at 24 years of age, he likely doesn’t have a major leap left. If the Cavaliers could swap Josh Jackson, who the Suns selected fourth overall in this year’s draft, this trade would suddenly become much more appealing.
This trade would again look to navigate between the present and the future. Wilson Chandler is an interesting wing that can defend and would likely excel next to James. He’s not a great shooter, but finds opportunities to get good looks and has averaged 14 points per game in his career. Gary Harris was reportedly available in the Kevin Love three-way trade scenarios involving Paul George, so Denver appears willing to part with him. Harris is a highly-efficient scorer who made 42 percent of his three-point attempts last season. He’ll be 24 going into next season, but is young enough that there is potential for more growth. Jameer Nelson is not an exciting add, but the Cavaliers would need a point guard to rotate with Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon with Irving no longer on the team.
Perhaps my favorite trade option nets the Cavaliers the sharp-shooting Krhis Middleton and Rookie-of-the-Year Malcolm Brogdon. Middleton is an elite shooter and defender with good size who can impact the game in many ways. A career 40 percent shooter from three, Middleton also fills the box scores with rebounds, assists, and steals. He struggled a bit last year coming back from injury, but rates out as a great isolation scorer in limited opportunities. He has the size to play multiple positions for the Cavaliers and could serve a similar role to Klay Thompson with the Golden State Warriors; score when needed, space the floor, defend, and do the little things. He will be 26 next season and is under contract for three more years, providing a bright future. Brogdon burst on the scene in Milwaukee this year and supplanted former Cavalier Matthew Dellavedova as the starting point guard. He can shoot, he can pass, he’s tall for a point guard, and is an all-around solid player. His ceiling is likely limited, but could be a great role player around LeBron James.
Another version of this trade would include Iman Shumpert from the Cavaliers and change the package to Middleton with Jabari Parker and Dellavedova. Parker had an incredible season before tearing his ACL for a second time. It’s questionable what type of player he can be after suffering such two devastating injuries, but he provides significant upside. Dellavedova has struggled mightily in Milwaukee and would be more of a salary dump for them. We know he can be somewhat useful next to James, and would need someone to soak up point guard minutes in Irving’s absence.
I’m sure you have your own ideas and as always, the actual trade that happens will likely be one no one expected. Please share your thoughts on these ideas in the comments or post your own scenarios. It’s going to be a wild ride until this is resolved.