This means an Irving deal is imminent. Here are nine potential trades involving teams that aren’t among the other eight obvious playoff contenders (GSW, SAS, HOU, OKC, BOS, TOR, WAS, MIL) heading into 2017-18.
For starters, the Cavaliers can’t reasonably expect a fair return here. Paul George fetched Victor Oladipo. Jimmy Butler brought back Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Cleveland doesn’t exactly have leverage.
Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson for Kyrie Irving
Pat Riley can offer a young wing like Richardson knowing that the Heat made Irving’s short list of preferred destinations. Meanwhile, even coming off a stellar season Dragic becomes expendable with Kyrie on board. Rose may prove himself to be a decent backup, but Goran would be a massive upgrade over the former MVP.
Carmelo Anthony and Chasson Randle for Kyrie Irving, Kay Felder, and Edy Tavares
The Knicks may have already agreed to throw in at least one first round pick, and Anthony is a pristine fit next to James. Plus New York surprisingly made Irving’s wish list. Irving-Porzingis and Olympic Melo: engage.
Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb for Kyrie Irving
The former Duke Blue Devil playing for Michael Jordan’s Hornets would be intriguing. It would also increase Charlotte’s window of contention while providing the Cavaliers with as good a replacement option as possible.
Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Darrell Arthur, and Malik Beasley for Kyrie Irving
The Nuggets can offer a medley of quality players with Murray as the main chip. Barton is due for a pretty nice payday next summer, and Arthur can be the backup big man Cleveland lacked behind Tristan Thompson.
Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Wesley Johnson for Kyrie Irving
This trade isn’t legal until August 27. It could also be considered a low-ball offer without any picks included and perhaps L.A. would gladly offer a first-rounder or two, but remember this isn’t much less than what the Clippers got for Chris Paul. Beverley would bring defensive intensity to a Cavs team seeking an identity on that end of the court. And Lou Will can do a decent Irving impersonation by getting buckets off the bench.
Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng for Kyrie Irving
Minny might be hesitant to trade an up-and-coming young wing like Wiggins, especially having already paid Jeff Teague. The fit would undeniably be a weird one, but the Wolves would have to consider it.
DeMarcus Cousins for Kyrie Irving
The Cavs would sport two bigs that score from deep and dish with ease, then shift Tristan Thompson to a high energy bench role. The Pels would have three point guards, but none of them would be that similar. Holiday and Rondo can both slide down the positional chart on defense, and both tilt closer to being pass-first than score-first on the point guard scale. Irving-Holiday would be one of the top starting backcourts in the NBA.
Eric Bledsoe for Kyrie Irving
Bledsoe is bigger and stronger than Irving, and thus less likely to be dominated by the best offenses in the league. Eric has had his fair share of injuries, but the Cavaliers can’t expect a much better deal than this. Perhaps the Suns would throw in a first-rounder or two if they see Splash Brothers Southwest upside.
Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors, and Raul Neto for Kyrie Irving
Hood has been fantastic as a late first round pick – and he may be primed for a breakout season alongside Ricky Rubio – but Donovan Mitchell could ultimately become an even better two-way shooting guard. Rudy Gobert’s Dikembe Mutombo-like presence in the paint combined with a solid defensive core of team-first grinders would give Irving a modernized version of what the Sixers once offered a young Allen Iverson.