In an unanticipated turn of events, All-Star Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. When listing potential trade suitors, Irving reportedly favored the San Antonio Spurs.
Following a dreadful loss to Golden State in the 2017 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving has made decisions regarding his future. The 25-year-old is seeking to step out from the shadows cast upon him by LeBron James. In a meeting with Cleveland’s front office, Irving discussed interest in the San Antonio Spurs, New York, Miami and Minnesota.
Despite finding themselves in the mix for multiple free agents, San Antonio has remained relatively quiet through the summer. The signings of Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauvergne headline the team’s additions but leave room for improvement. This may be the opportunity that R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich have been waiting for.
The success of the Spurs’ organization has made them a consistent contender in the NBA’s ‘Arms Race’. With 18 consecutive seasons of 50 wins and five championships, San Antonio has established a culture of winning which attracts talent.
Sources: In the Kyrie Irving meeting with Cavs, one of primary teams raised as a preferred trade destination for him: The San Antonio Spurs.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 21, 2017
Irving is one of the league’s fiercest competitors and values winning higher than most. Pairing up with Kawhi Leonard under the tutelage of Popovich would create great opportunities for the young guard.
The Trade Logistics
With reports breaking throughout the sports world, Cleveland has lost some of their leverage in trade negotiations. As other teams become aware of this, San Antonio becomes a viable trade partner for the Cavaliers.
Don't be surprised if the Spurs land Kyrie Irving in a trade. They're in the mix.
— Mitch Lawrence (@Mitch_Lawrence) July 21, 2017
Cleveland and San Antonio have been paired in trade talks numerous times during the 2017 NBA Offseason. The Cavs have targeted both Danny Green and Lamarcus Aldridge during this summer.
If the interest stands despite the departure of Cavs GM Dan Gilbert, San Antonio could make this work. While Aldridge has been the clear-cut No. 2 option for two years, his departure could be mutually beneficial. Aldridge has shown signs of disarray with his role for the team and may find new opportunity in Cleveland.
San Antonio’s largest obstacle would be adjusting the overcrowded guard rotation. Adding Kyrie to the mix would potentially create lineup issues.
Luckily for the Spurs, Coach Popovich creates dynamic guard tandems in his offense. Parker and Mills have shared the backcourt for many years despite sharing the point guard position. White’s position is moldable and Murray is able to play at either guard position.
For the Spurs, Murray is the young prospect CLE would want.
Deals involving Aldridge or Green would be the key financial parts.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) July 21, 2017
Sending Parker to Cleveland makes sense for both teams on paper. His expiring deal would allow Cleveland to pursue free agents next summer and the starting point guard role will easily be handed to Irving for the Spurs. Nonetheless, the likelihood of San Antonio moving Parker is slim-to-none as loyalty rules supreme for the Spurs.
Murray and White could also be interesting pieces for Cleveland, but Buford will likely try to preserve young assets.
For a trade to be completed, San Antonio will be forced to absorb one of Cleveland’s less favorable contracts. Two players that Cleveland has shopped in the past are lockdown-defender Iman Shumpert and floor-spacing bigman Channing Frye.
A Potential Trade Scenario: LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green and a 2018 First Round Pick for Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert.
Losing two starters is a big deal for San Antonio, but it could work in their favor. Both Aldridge and Green have one year remaining on their contracts with options for the 2018-2019 season.
The Spurs’ developing players could enter new roles to cope with the loss of the starters. The addition of Irving would far surpass the loss of Green and Aldridge. Shumpert could also fill the role left open by guard Jonathon Simmons who left the Spurs for Orlando.
As for Cleveland, the trade makes sense on many levels. Green is a much needed upgrade at the shooting guard position, as Shumpert and J.R. Smith’s numbers have declined.
Aldridge would also dominate the paint for the Cavs, relieving Tristan Thompson of his sole responsibility in protecting the interior. He’d also draw defenders from LeBron James and Kevin Love, creating new shot opportunities.
The loss of their starting point guard would be difficult, but not insurmountable. With LeBron James leading their offense, role players could easily fill the position with floor spacing and defense.
Is Irving the Catalyst in San Antonio’s championship hopes?
With Tony Parker sidelined until winter, San Antonio could use some help in the backcourt. Kyrie could be for Kawhi Leonard what Parker was for Duncan. In many ways, Irving resembles a young Tony Parker in San Antonio.
Both guards were crafty, quick and skillful with their drives. They both have a wide array of moves and will do anything to achieve victory.
Its for this reason in particular that Irving would be the Spurs’ most important step in earning their sixth championship. His experience and fearlessness perfectly compliment the pedigree of Kawhi Leonard.
The possibilities for San Antonio would be endless and would certainly be competitive against the league’s elite. A small-ball lineup of Irving, Ginobili, Leonard, Gay and Gasol would allow for magnificent passing and dynamic scoring unparalleled in the NBA.
Whether Irving is the last step to achieving a sixth championship is yet to be seen, but he’d certainly help. In the modern NBA, the best way to compete is by stockpiling talent and surrounding stars with complimentary role players. By adding a star of Irving’s caliber, San Antonio would propel the team to the top of the league’s power rankings.
The Spurs Organization has remained quiet through the rumors, but is likely weighing their options. For now, the team is focused on finalizing contracts for Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili.
When negotiations are completed, Irving will become the main topic of conversation in the San Antonio front office.