Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland, and he’s included four teams to which he’d prefer to go. Those teams: the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves, according to a report from ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Irving requested a trade after a meeting with the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Irving wants to be more of a focal point on offense, per the report, and doesn’t want to play alongside LeBron James anymore.
But his list doesn’t really matter. The Cavaliers can trade Irving to wherever they see fit, and he doesn’t have the ability to reject whatever trade may come with a no-trade clause.
Irving averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists per game last season and made his fourth All-Star appearance in the last five seasons. He’s only 25 years old, but has played second fiddle to James over the last three seasons in Cleveland.
Irving’s destination list doesn’t really mean much
Irving’s list, while understandable, really doesn’t matter because the Cavs have all the power. These are trade rumors, not free agency. Irving’s destinations may come into play, but they won’t if the package coming back to the Cavaliers isn’t a good one.
Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he doesn’t have the ability to reject any old trade here like Carmelo Anthony has done with the Knicks. He still has two years and a player option left on his contract, so he can’t use the same threat of departing as a short-term rental that Paul George could. Giving the Cavaliers a list does nothing for him at this point.
Those four teams don’t have much to offer the Cavaliers in return. The Wolves have young prospects, but traded away Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in the Jimmy Butler trade. They just signed Jeff Teague to a long-term deal and won’t be able to trade him until Dec. 15.
The Heat have some solid pieces to offer, but the most appealing is probably Justise Winslow. Other than that, they have mostly hefty contracts attached to middling talent
The Knicks don’t really have anything appealing other than Kristaps Porzingis, and the same can be said for the Spurs, who aren’t giving up Kawhi Leonard for anything. There’d unquestionably have to be a third team that comes in to facilitate a deal between the Cavs and these teams, and that’s a hard thing to accomplish.
So why even bother giving the Cavaliers a list?
Because it helps any team that trades for Irving keep talent on their roster. The Cavs are the ones in need here — Irving doesn’t want to play there. Teams now may not have to give up the farm to trade for him, which will cool the market. George and Butler set the market.
This also serves as a bit of a leverage play for Irving. He’s letting teams know that they won’t be able to retain him when he’s a free agent in 2020. That’s still a ways down the line, but it’s what he has.
Irving just blindsided the Cavs with this. The market on stars has cooled off — Paul George and Jimmy Butler are both off the table already. Every marquee free agent has already chosen a destination. The Cavaliers are left with little options to choose from.
It’s probably not enough to scare teams off, but it’s worth a shot at least. Making the list public at least frustrated the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
ESPN Sources: Cleveland disturbed news about Kyrie Irving was made public out of fear it could impact trade value.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 21, 2017