Kyrie Irving made waves in the NBA this past week after demanding a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, even as the organization has recently enjoyed an unprecedented run of success. This demand, while untimely in regards to the draft and free agency, isn’t as shocking as one may think with Lebron James future so in doubt after the 2017-18 season.
A plethora of high profile trade ideas have sprouted up throughout the media in wake of this breaking news, with names such as Eric Bledsoe, Carmelo Anthony, Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and many more being discussed as possible targets.
One of the few similarities all of these offers have in common is that they try to retain the Cavs dwindling hopes to immediately win an NBA title. I say dwindling not to disparage the ability of an all time great like Lebron, but because the Cavs organizational dysfunction comes at a period in the NBA when teams like the Warriors are running as efficiently as any franchise possibly could.
The roster in Cleveland is simply short on appropriate talent to compete in a modern NBA that emphasizes space and versatility. A single trade that tosses away Kyrie, who is one of the most tantalizing talents in The Association, isn’t going to close the talent gap on the team in the bay area.
What Cleveland should really consider doing for once, is placing an emphasis on the future, especially a post-Lebron future. They should blow up the team in an effort to collect as many promising young pieces and draft picks as possible.
Kyrie is just the beginning. They can reasonably trade him for a plethora of young options, draft picks, or both. Andrew Wiggins return to the “mistake on the lake” has been tossed around a couple of times, but the Timberwolves don’t have the necessary complimentary pieces to facilitate a move of this nature.
The Cavs should look to their recent rivals from Beantown to try and take advantage of the unenviable position they are facing.
Get a top five pick, get Jayson Tatum, get Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown. All of these players, or a combination of these players, makes the dim future in Cleveland a lot more palatable. If this seems to be mortgaging to much of the future then take on the expiring contract of Isaiah Thomas.
While this idea in and of itself isn’t entirely drastic, the wheeling and dealing shouldn’t stop there. Trade Kevin Love also. Look for another young star, or another potential lottery selection in exchange for a player whose skill set doesn’t entirely match up with the modern game.
Consider moving Tristan Thompson as well. His value as a rebounding, defending big can be useful in the right spot and as of now, that right spot is no longer Cleveland. Both of those players can net decent returns and we haven’t even discussed the most lucrative trade chip.
It’s a necessary evil at this point. Trade him before he leaves again. I understand the immediate concern is that he won’t waive his no-trade clause, but let’s see what he’s thinking after the team begins a roster wide fire sale. When he steps onto the court with four players who are barely of the legal drinking age, he may start to reconsider that no trade sentiment.
Dealing away maybe the greatest player of all time is risky, as the haul in return will almost certainly never be enough value, but it beats losing him for nothing.
This idea has been compared to the Pacers trading away a rental in Paul George, but the biggest difference is that while Paul George is an all-star rental that ensures a trip to the playoffs, Lebron is a superstar rental that pretty much ensures a trip to the NBA finals, at least.
Moving forward, the Cavs look to be in the most unenviable position a finals caliber team can possibly be in. If they’re smart, which has been a tough assumption to make in the Dan Gilbert era, they would consider a life without Lebron right now, before they’re left treading water with no superstars, no youth, and no real direction.
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