By now you’ve undoubtedly heard that Kyrie Irving asked the Cavaliers to trade him. You’ve wondered about potential destinations and even come up with specific trades that seem fair enough for both sides.
But however you feel about Kyrie’s demand — maybe you think he’s insane for wanting to be a focal point on a 40-win team instead of the X-Factor on a team that is a Kevin Durant leg injury away from being ostensible title favorites, or maybe you can kinda understand why a player of his caliber would grow tired of LeBron’s relentless passive aggression — the Cavs don’t have any reason why they have to honor it.
Kyrie is signed for two more seasons. Not only that, but he reportedly provided the team with a list of preferred destinations, which matters about as much as the weather forecast tomorrow in Dubai given that he doesn’t have a no-trade clause. By demanding a trade he runs the risk of getting stuck somewhere like Sacramento or Orlando, but I digress.
Ultimately, it seems almost like a foregone conclusion that LeBron is leaving after this season. That means the Cavs realistically have a one-year window left to compete for another championship. Golden State is, of course, much better situated than Cleveland, but the only chance the Cavs have to win games is when Kyrie has a shooting explosion. (Kyrie’s defense does leave something to be desired, but when his streakiness is positive it’s well worth the tradeoff.)
In a league where we see the Bulls and Pacers get back paltry value for Jimmy Butler and Paul George, do we really expect the Cavs to replace Kyrie with a player or players who can match the scoring output on his best nights?
In a year, LeBron could leave and Kyrie can either be the man in Cleveland who attempts to salvage the wreckage (and potentially give him the super-max), or the Cavs can trade him then. His value won’t be all that much different than it is now. They’re not yet close to approaching the territory of losing him for nothing. Unless they get an offer that blows them away, it’s really difficult to envision a scenario where they pull the trigger on a trade.