August is usually the least NBA time of the year. After free agency, before preseason. But Kyrie Irving trying to get out of Cleveland remains a big deal. Where does it stand? The Cavaliers want a young star to join them via trade. The hottest name at the moment is the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. Irving, on the other hand, seems to prefer joining the San Antonio Spurs.
Things have seemed to simmer down a bit since last month’s drama of Irving suddenly asking to be traded by the Cavaliers. LeBron James keeps posting cryptic messages on social media and names involved in potential trades keep getting mentioned, but overall, there doesn’t seem to be any momentum building towards Irving finding a new NBA home. The Cavaliers don’t seem to be in a rush to move him, so they won’t accept 75 cents on the dollar, while teams interested in Irving aren’t losing their head and trying to give up too much.
Irving is hoping the Spurs make a move, but it’s difficult to see the Spurs coming up with the pieces to add Irving. Going all out in a trade for an All-Star doesn’t seem like a very Popovich thing to do anyway. He has been slow to react to Tony Parker’s fast decline, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to gut his team’s depth or future just to land Irving.
The Knicks are one of the teams Irving reportedly is willing to play for, although no one is really asking him. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, and perhaps the Cavaliers are trying to punish him by sending him to the worst possible team, as was once something of a tradition in the league when a player went to the front office and demanded a trade.
But the only way this deal works is if Porzingis makes his way to the Cavaliers, and the Knicks, now out of their disastrous Phil Jackson tenure, see Porzingis as the real deal. They’re more worried about finding a trading partner for Carmelo Anthony (who could weirdly work next to LeBron James), not move Porzingis.
You can say the same thing about other teams linked to the Cavaliers and Irving: The Minnesota Timberwolves won’t trade Andrew Wiggins or Karl-Anthony Towns for Irving, and the Phoenix Suns refuse to include Devin Booker or Josh Jackson in a deal for Irving. Allegedly, Irving wants to step out of LeBron’s massive shadow, but teams don’t see him as the kind of #1 player to build a franchise around, and I don’t think the Cavaliers are buying it either.
The sense in Cleveland is that something is coming to an end. LeBron James is reportedly leaving at the end of the 2017-2018 season. Irving just wants to beat him to it. Joining the Spurs won’t make him a #1 guy because Kawhi Leonard is a much better player. Irving simply wants to get out before everything falls apart. The Cavaliers front office, especially Dan Gilbert, seem to be ready to end their run of finals in the LeBron + Cleveland 2.0 mini-era. If it means keeping Irving on the team despite his unhappiness, so be it. Until the right offer comes along.