Cavaliers, Headlines

Cavs “fixated” on Porzingis, other young stars in Kyrie talks

With LeBron James getting older, the Cavaliers’ contention window closing, and a complete lack of certainty as to what the roster will look like in the next several seasons, Koby Altman and the rest of the front office appear focused on youth and draft selections as much as anything when it comes to trade talks surrounding point guard Kyrie Irving. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski lays out several trade scenarios for the Cavaliers, but one variable is much, much different compared to any trade discussions in the past: With LeBron James not committing to the team beyond 2017-18, the Cavs will not allow a repeat of 2010 where the roster is littered with overpaid, aging veterans who were meant to be role players. They want young, cost-controlled players who will allow the team to be competitive well beyond this coming season.

Among the names listed as potential players of desire for Altman and Co.: New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson and Denver’s Jamal Murray.

From Woj:

The process of building out the franchise’s roster long term has accelerated with Irving’s trade request. The Cavaliers have witnessed James’ exit strategy twice — once to leave Cleveland and once to return — and the Irving trade request has left them unwilling to squander the opportunity to replenish young assets on a roster that could be crippled in a post-James Cavaliers era that is stocked with high-priced veterans.

The Cavaliers find themselves far more fixated on a young star, including New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson and Denver’s Jamal Murray, league sources told ESPN.

The Golden State Warriors have affected the way the NBA and its stars do business, and no one — not even a franchise that possesses the generation’s greatest player — wants to be left compromised long term for what’s a fleeting chance to beat Golden State in the short term.

Cleveland is determined to get an elite young player for Irving, which means this: The trade plan that the Cavaliers would have prioritized, with James committed for the long term — veterans to surround James and draft picks — isn’t in motion.

Porzingas would be a huge win for the Cavaliers front office, a potential top-15 player at a premium position who also happens to be one of the league’s most marketable players, but acquiring him would depend on a combination of the Knicks finally budging, and Dan Gilbert being willing to pay the taxes necessary in also obtaining the ridiculous contract of center and notorious Cleveland-hater Joakim Noah. Tatum appears obtainable, but it will have to become clear that other teams are in the mix before Boston is willing to part with any of their younger pieces. Jackson and Murray have, to this point, been reportedly unavailable, but the fluid nature of anything in the NBA could quickly change this if either the Suns or Nuggets felt they would be able to keep Irving beyond his current contract.

Wojnarowski also lists a host of players who have been rumored to be on the move (San Antonio’s Danny Green, Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge), but none are enticing enough in the way of youth and cost for the Cavaliers to budge. The difference between this set of discussions and most others are rooted in the experience and readiness of those on the other end. Typically, the team has acquired veterans who are on second or third contracts, but those who have typically provided LeBron James with players who can step into high-leverage situations and help the team compete for a title. Had James committed beyond this coming season, things may have been a bit different, but Altman realizes his entire legacy as general manager of the Cavaliers will hinge upon whatever he gets in return for Irving. Conversely, if the Cavaliers are hoping to sign James to a long-term contract after this season, having a core of players who will help the team compete beyond 2018 —as opposed to the cavalcade of aging veterans who plagued the roster back in 2010 — may be the best way to do so.

  • Steve

    I wonder if trying to thread the needle of getting good enough players to win now with Lebron and good long-term prospects to keep the ship afloat if he leaves is going to be darn near impossible. Commit to one way or the other and pray like hell you chose right. Whats the worst that can happen, pick at the top of the lottery for four straight years?

  • RGB

    If management knew that KI was this hell-bent on getting away from the Cavs/LBJ, I wonder why they didn’t go after Porzingas when Phil was available for the fleecing?

  • Steve

    That they didn’t get any of Paul, George, Butler, or Porzingis (assuming Jackson was actually trying to trade him, and not just some weird motivation tactic) when a return of Irving would have been better than anything those that were moved got says to me that they were very sure they were keeping Irving. The rumors were that we vetoed the Irving for Bledsoe and George trade. Regardless of what is the truth, it seems to be there is a Browns-level of dysfunction in this organization.

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  • Saggy

    And Griffin had the keys for that whole time. As I’ve said here before, and I think you have, too, I don’t believe Griffin is as good as many people think. He was damn lucky to get a few deals and botched some contracts to the point of paying crazy dollars for old dudes.

    But there is probably some dysfunction and, frankly, it seems like a staring contest right now; I think you need to approach this as a deal that doesn’t get done until the last moment. Whoever blinks, loses.

  • Greg Popelka

    Exactly. Drawing it out can be messy, but it (or the threat of it) is the only way they can hope for any leverage to get anything for him.

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