If you’re listing out potential Kyrie Irving trade suitors, it might be time to take the Phoenix Suns off the list. On Thursday on the BBall Breakdown Podcast, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin said that Irving once went days without talking to teammates during practice last postseason.
One of those teammates was James Jones, who was hired as the vice president of basketball operations this summer by Phoenix. According to McMenamin, there’s a good chance that type of experience with Irving would sour Jones on any potential Suns trade for him.
Here’s what McMenamin said, as transcribed by Sportando:
“Phoenix, of course, hired James Jones this offseason. He’s been inside that locker room. He’s seen Kyrie Irving — I think I reported this on SportsCenter this week — he saw Kyrie Irving in the playoffs this year — in between the first round when they beat Indiana and the second round when they played Toronto — go consecutive days without speaking to a teammate at practice. On that stage. It’s one thing to say people go through ups and downs during the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, when the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers and pulling together to get this thing done, even at that level there were still things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates. I’m not so sure if Phoenix would be interested in that type of deal.”
Irving’s trade request, which was reported in late July, hit the NBA as a complete shock. But in the following weeks, it has slowly been revealed that those closest to the situation — teams, players, and a few of the most embedded reporters — had seen this coming. Jimmy Butler, for one, had reportedly been warned by Cavaliers players to stay away if possible. Others had seen or sensed Irving’s unhappiness and desire to leave in the months leading up to him asking out.
But the same signs that hinted at Irving’s unhappiness appears to be tanking his trade value, too. The Suns were one suitor who made more sense than most of the league, able to offer a proven veteran (Eric Bledsoe), some sort of young prospect, and a future pick. However, if they have no interest, it’s growing harder to see where the Cavaliers can field viable trade options for a player who was so important to their championship contender status.