When informing the Cleveland Cavaliers of his request to be traded, Kyrie Irving gave them a list of four teams he would prefer as destinations – San Antonio, Miami, Minnesota and New York – according to ESPN.
Now, the Cavaliers aren’t beholden to anything Irving wants and not only could they trade him to a team not on his list, but they don’t have to trade him at all as he still has two years under contract.
Holding onto the point guard would nonetheless make for an ugly situation, so it’s in the best interest of the Cavaliers to at least explore trade possibilities, as hard as it may be to swallow giving up a 25-year-old star.
After extended talks, the hiring of Koby Altman as Cleveland's new GM is imminent, league sources tell ESPN. Altman was Cavs' assistant GM.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 21, 2017
It will also be interesting to learn what the trade market is like for Irving, who is a ball-dominant, one-way player – albeit one of the best offensive forces in the league.
Let’s go through the four teams Irving mentioned and gauge the likelihood of him ending up at each spot. There’s also one team that, despite not being one of Irving’s preferred locations, makes too much sense to ignore.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Such is the level of respect for the Spurs and Gregg Popovich that Irving named on his list of preferred teams.
Adding Irving next to Kawhi Leonard would instantly boost the offence and relieve the former’s burden to create.
Let’s not forget though, this has to be a two-way street with the Spurs wanting Irving as well. While he doesn’t exactly fit their ball movement ethos, San Antonio surely would want the talent upgrade. The cost would likely involve young point guard Dejounte Murray and Danny Green, but they have little else to offer.
More: LeBron intends to let the Cavs front office and owner Dan Gilbert take the lead with Kyrie Irving's demands. https://t.co/PqJ0xOq8gH— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 21, 2017
Irving unsurprisingly would be willing to go to Miami and who could blame him?
He’s a 25-year-old star entering his prime who already has a ring. Plus, he only experienced one year in college at Duke. Why not enjoy the Miami scene off the court, while joining a fairly promising situation on it.
Irving would immediately be the main scoring option with the Heat and just for comedy sakes, it would be fun to see him play with Dion Waiters again.
To reunite them, Miami would probably have to give up Goran Dragic and Justice Winslow, at the very least.
While Minnesota seem like a random team to include on a list of preferred teams, they make sense for Irving.
The point guard is friends with Jimmy Butler and reportedly considered Chicago as a destination before they traded their own star guard.
A lineup featuring Irving, Butler and Towns would be terrifying offensively, even without Andrew Wiggins who ironically would make the most sense for the Cavaliers to target in return, three years after they traded him for Kevin Love.
Jeff Teague would also make sense for both sides, but he just signed his deal so he can’t be traded until December.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Being ‘the man’ in New York is different than being ‘the man’ anywhere else. The hub of basketball comes with its own pros and cons, from heightened pressure to succeed, to unparalleled adulation if you turn the franchise around.
The Knicks also feature a budding star in Kristaps Porzingis, who would form a deadly one-two punch with Irving in pick-and-pops. It would certainly make the team exponentially more fun overnight.
It wouldn’t be what they had planned, but after chasing Carmelo Anthony this summer, the Cavaliers would at least get someone they’ve wanted all along.
No, Phoenix wasn’t on Irving’s list of preferable trade partners, but the Cavaliers won’t really care. They’re going to try to extract the most value possible and the Suns fit the profile.
Irving would be swapping one unhappy situation for likely another, but Phoenix have long coveted a star and they would have two years to convince him to re-sign.
Don’t count out the Suns being a facilitator in a three-deal either.
They won’t offer Devin Booker, but they’ll happily part with Eric Bledsoe and a capable wing like T.J. Warren.