The race for Kyrie Irving is on, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks are one of six teams to have made a formal offer to the Cavaliers for his services.
Woj reports that Cleveland brass, now led by new General Manager Koby Altman, is seeking a return haul similar to what the Nuggets received for Carmelo Anthony back in 2011. Anthony was obviously the deal’s big headliner, coming home to New York (much like Irving reportedly desires to). But behind all the noise and hoopla, Denver came away with a package that netted them competitive players, both for the present and those to build on and potentially move forward with. In addition, they also reeled in future draft picks as well.
Could the Knicks satisfy Cleveland’s craving for such an offering? Chances are, they can come pretty darn close to checking most of the boxes. They’re arguably in much better position than some of the opposing teams hoping to acquire Irving instead.
If New York presents Carmelo Anthony with the ultimatum of playing with the Cavaliers or returning to the Knicks, perhaps he’d eventually come around on a deal. After all, LeBron James is one of his best friends and Cleveland was on his initial list of desired destinations. Centering a deal around Anthony would bolster the Knicks’ hopes of putting together a competitive package. They also employ highly serviceable veterans on reasonable contracts like Courtney Lee and Kyle O’Quinn. Both players are seemingly expendable given New York’s recent acquisitions, but they could absolutely help a team like the Cavaliers.
Despite Phil Jackson’s vast inadequacies as an executive, the Knicks still managed to secure all of the organization’s draft picks. Irving is the type of young superstar that a team can sacrifice a couple of those for. He’s worth it.
Nevertheless, New York’s ability to part with such future draft selections is dependent upon the hope that they otherwise hang onto their promising young players. Adding Irving to a youthful core that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Frank Ntilikina would set the team up for a very strong future in the years to come. This would, assumedly, allow them to trade a couple of draft picks. Irving would make the Knicks competitive, making such selections less valuable. Furthermore, if the Knicks can secure the rest of its youthful core, the pressing need for high picks in the next year or two is not as prevalent.
This is where it gets tricky because the Cavaliers’ desire for young players makes sense. When the Knicks acquired Anthony initially, they were eventually sucked into (also) including Timofey Mozgov, an intriguing young international prospect at the time, in the deal. Irving is a franchise-fate altering player, but the Knicks must be careful not to go too far. They can put together a competitive offer without sacrificing the team’s youth.
It’ll then be up to the Cavaliers to evaluate their options. Perhaps they’ll come to the realization that despite all their hopes and goals, the Knicks can still present them with the best potential offer for Irving.