With a budding superstar in Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers had high hopes before the season started and that they will be one of the playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Fast forward to January, the Cavs are still mired in mediocrity—and maybe even below it as they find themselves out of the playoff picture with just a 16-30 win-loss card and 11th place in the weak East.
The Cavaliers did try to improve the team by trading for small forward Luol Deng earlier this season. However, Cleveland’s performance hasn’t improved owing to lack of chemistry and perhaps, lack of talent in the roster.
The Cavs infamously drafted Anthony Bennett as the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft making them the laughingstock in the league this season as the 22-year-old is looking like a bust every time he hits the floor.
According to Chad Ford, a reliable ESPN writer, there is indeed trouble at the Cavaliers camp. Among them is the fact that Irving “wants out”. Here’s the exact transcript from the ESPN chat with Ford:
“Something has to happen quick. Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out. Cleveland can't afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.”
Ford also mentioned that the general manager (Chris Grant) and head coach (Mike Brown) could be axed if the Cavs do not turn it around in the second half of the regular season:
“Virtually every GM in the league believes that Grant will be gone this summer if things don't get turned around this season. He doesn't have much time. The thinking is that there's no way Dan Gilbert is going to let him make another lottery pick if that's the direction the Cavs end up heading. Grant's goal (via his owner) is to get this team competitive and into the playoffs. The Deng move was supposed to help. But so far ... nothing. Chemistry is a major issue there and some of that is on Mike Brown. But more of it is on the collection of players in Cleveland at the moment.”
Irving, who was named as an NBA All-Star reserve in New Orleans this February, is dismayed with the fact that his team still cannot contend for anything significant in his third year in the league. Irving has averaged 21.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG and 5.8 APG in 42 games for the Cavs this season.
With a disgruntled Irving, the Cavaliers front office may have no choice but to trade away their star PG lest they want to go through “The Decision” once again—when they lost LeBron James for nothing via free agency in 2010.
Irving has two year left in his contract and the deal expires after 2014-2015. The 21-year-old should be due for a huge extension at around the $12M to $15M range. The question if is he’s willing to sign that superstar max deal with Cleveland.
Via ESPN’s Trade Machine, here are few trade scenarios involving Irving:
Cleveland Cavaliers – Denver Nuggets Trade K. Irving ($5.6M) + J. Jack ($6.3M) + A. Varejao ($9.1M) for T. Lawson ($10.7M) + D. Gallinari ($10.1M)
Logic for the Cavaliers: Yes, both Lawson and Gallinari are owed multi-million in multi-years but that also means they have them locked down for the next seasons. Reloading rather than rebuild as Lawson and Gallinari have star potential and good building blocks.
Logic for the Nuggets: They get their star PG in Irving, who has more upside than the undersized Lawson and get serviceable players in Jack and Varejao.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Houston Rockets Trade K. Irving ($5.6M) + C. Miles ($2.2M) for J. Lin ($8.3M) + C. Parsons ($926K) + Houston 1st Round Pick
Logic for Cavaliers: Lin and Parsons are legit starters; the latter can even be a star given his performance the last two years. The first rounder is the sweetener as Cleveland prepares for life without Irving. They can work later on in extending Parsons (expectedly cheaper than Irving).
Logic for the Rockets: Finally, they get that third star alongside Harden and Howard. They lose Parson’s shooting but Irving is more than capable of contributing on offense. A backcourt of Irving-Harden will be one of the most potent offensively.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Minnesota Timberwolves Trade K. Irving ($5.6M) + A. Varejao ($9M) for N. Pekovic ($12.1M) + R. Rubio ($3.6M)
Logic for Both: Who says no… With stumbling campaigns for both franchises this year maybe a change of scenery (and star point guards) might just be the change they need.