Kyrie Irving has demanded the Cleveland Cavaliers trade him. While Irving has no leverage, the team is still reportedly trying to move their star point guard. And the deals being rumored are big. Young players, starters, future 1st round picks. It seems unthinkable considering what Paul George and Jimmy Butler fetched as recently as earlier this month.
Since George is an expiring contract with his sights set clearly on Los Angeles next summer, it makes sense that his trade value dropped considerably. Jimmy Butler on the other hand…
Jimmy Butler is 27 with two years and $39.7 guaranteed remaining on his contract, plus a player option for the ’19-’20 season worth $19.8 million. Irving is 25 with two years and $38.9 million guaranteed remaining on his contract and a player option worth $21.3 million.
While Irving is younger and the perception surrounding Butler is that he played hellish minutes under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, Irving has played more regular season minutes, playoff games and playoff minutes.
While Irving is a better shooter and scorer, it’s a narrow gap. Butler has a better offensive rating and wins almost every advanced statistical category comparison. Irving managed just 3.3 more points per 100 posessions in ’16-’17 than Butler. Butler averaged nearly twice as many rebounds last season and Kyrie held a negligible advantage in assists per game. (5.8 to 5.5)
Both players have been named to All-NBA 3rd teams – Butler most recently this last season. Obviously, you can’t put a price on Kyrie’s playoff resume. He hit the game-winning shot in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Not many people can say that. A few more people can say they are 3-time All-NBA defenders, but Kyrie certainly isn’t one of those people. Jimmy Butler is.
Both guys can score. One looks a lot cooler doing it. One guy plays all-world defense. Both guys have played 6 NBA seasons. Both guys have very similar contract situations.
Yet somehow the Cavaliers are expecting a king’s ransom in exchange for Kyrie Irving when Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota in exchange for nothing. How could the Boston Celtics possibly give up something as rich as a Brooklyn pick, an All-NBA performer and another legitimate NBA starter?
Jimmy Butler was traded for a bust and a dunker coming off an ACL injury. It makes no sense that Boston wouldn’t have offered a similar package for Butler. It makes no sense that if this deal were a possibility the Cavaliers wouldn’t have already accepted. It makes no sense that an asset-crazed front office would suddenly give up so much to make their point guard 6 inches taller.
Not to mention the fact that the Cavaliers front office is a mess. Maybe Koby Altman is a very good general manager, but a different guy had his job two months ago and nobody had his job a week ago. I don’t understand how a franchise as poorly run as the Cleveland Cavaliers suddenly gets a legitimate return for a star when it looked like the market for that kind of player was in the tank just a few weeks ago. The Cavaliers turning Kyrie Irving into good assets would be a bigger upset than coming back from 3-1 to beat the Warriors.