Might Kyrie Irving begin next season with the Cleveland Cavaliers after all?
That’s the hope of some within the organization, according to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher:
While league sources say the Cavaliers are exploring what they might be able to get for Irving, there are those within the team who believe whatever issues Irving has can be addressed and resolved when the players reconvene next month for training camp. They say Irving’s disgruntlement caught them by surprise because there were no indications of it during the course of last season and certainly not on the heels of last summer’s successful championship run. Irving is under contract with the Cavs for both this season and next, with a player option for a third.
“He’s an emotional kid,” says one team source.
Trying to salvage this situation makes sense. It’s what the Cavaliers should have been doing from the start. Maybe it’s what they were always doing. If they weren’t, you can bet the rumored packages certainly drove them to search for common ground.
Hypothetical deals built around Eric Bledsoe and Josh Jackson or Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon are fun. They’re also unrealistic. Irving has yet to show he can carry a team on his own, and his value on offense doesn’t always trump what he takes away on defense. Teams aren’t forking over a pair of two-way players, one of whom is a fringe star in each case, for a point guard they know doesn’t want to stay in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers have leverage in the sense that Irving cannot explore free agency for two years (player option). But that’s not a long time. True, it’s about as much time as buyers will get with superstars under contract. But Irving has now shown he’ll do what it takes to try and control his own situation. Acquiring him if you’re not on his initial list of preferred destinations represents a real risk, even if it’s a longer-term meanwhile.
All of this holds true for the Cavaliers. They don’t have to trade Kyrie Irving. They can bank on improving the relationship between he and LeBron James, along with him and the organization. But not trading him, only to lose him later or flip him as an expiring contract next summer also qualifies as a loss. That’s the delicacy of their situation: The offers for Irving probably won’t match expectations now, and there’s no guarantee keeping him dissuades his departure in 2019.