Kyrie Irving is a wanted man.
Despite the rampant debate among basketball folks about whether the All-Star point guard can carry a team without LeBron James, plenty of teams have registered official interest in acquiring his services. The full list, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski: San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
Here’s Woj with more:
So far, these are among the teams who’ve made offers to the Cavaliers for Irving, league sources tell ESPN: The San Antonio Spurs, LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Miami Heat. There were approximately 20 teams that inquired with Cleveland upon the news of Irving’s trade request, league sources said, but far fewer have registered legitimate proposals. More loom in the shadows, and many interested simply don’t have the assets to make a deal happen.
The Cavaliers want a package that resembles the 2011 Denver Nuggets-New York Knicks deal for Carmelo Anthony — young players, win-now veterans and draft picks, league sources said. For new general manager Koby Altman, this is a textbook way to open trade discussions. But for now, most Irving suitors are using the Minnesota Timberwolves-Chicago Bullstrade model for Jimmy Butler, a scaled-down model of Melo’s rich return of assets.
It’s fairly smart of suitors to use the Butler trade package as a baseline. He cost the Timberwolves virtually nothing relative to his standing across the league. Irving should command more, and yet, Butler is the better the player, with an identical contract timeline. If he was only worth Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and an 11-spot jump in this year’s draft (Lauri Markkanen), why should Irving be worth more—particularly when he’s the one who has asked for out?
That really makes this a fascinating situation. Irving should net more, because he’s only 25 and the Bulls botched that Butler trade, but is he really going to generate that much larger of a return? Like, isn’t it weird that the Nuggets aren’t among the reported aggressive suitors? Or how about the Milwaukee Bucks, everyone’s favorite hypothetical partner, because they can offer a combination of Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and picks?
Among the teams Wojnarowski lists, the Suns can offer the best deal. Any of their packages have to include Eric Bledsoe, which is a good start. From there they need to use picks and other salaries to help the Cavaliers get what they want and/or consider throwing in No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson. The Timberwolves get interesting too if they’re willing to include Andrew Wiggins and can somehow extract Bledsoe from Phoenix as part of a three-team trade. The Spurs would be intriguing if there was a clear third team willing to pay a small fortune for LaMarcus Aldridge.
Basically, you should remain strapped in. This Irving thing could drag on for a while, and once it’s a resolved, they’ll be a lot of takez we need sort through.