While Derrick Rose’s decline from MVP has now seen him agree to a minimum deal, the Cleveland Cavaliers offer their most recent addition a chance at rebuilding his reputation.
The point guard is reportedly set to sign a veterans minimum salary of $2.1 million for one year during an uneasy time for Cleveland as the drama of Kyrie Irving’s recently reported trade request hangs above their heads.
Rose appears in line to potentially benefit from the disconnect, with the 28-year-old agreeing to the deal “after spending the day [with LeBron James], discussing how the team will return to the Finals without Kyrie Irving”, according to Cleveland.com, who also state that “James is eager to see [Irving] off”.
Despite Irving requesting a trade and providing the Cavaliers a list of four teams he would prefer to call his new home – San Antonio, Miami, New York and Minnesota – he’s still under contract until the summer of 2019 at the earliest, meaning Cleveland could keep him in the hopes of resolving any chemistry issues.
However, it’s sounding more and more like the Cavaliers are seriously planning on moving Irving, with Rose seemingly sold on the idea of being an impactful playmaker alongside James.
Rose had been in communication with James throughout the process leading up to signing with Cleveland, according to ESPN, and James welcomed his new team-mate by tweeting on Monday: “Let’s Rock G!!”.
James also took to Twitter yesterday to shoot down rumours surround him and Irving, including the aforementioned claim that he’s “eager” for Cleveland to trade the All-Star point guard.
James tweeted: “#NotFacts people! Boooo!!! Get another source” while quoting two SLAM Magazine articles referencing his unhappiness with Irving.
For Rose, the $2.1m contract pales in comparison to the five-year, $150m deal he was reportedly hoping for midway through this past season, according to ESPN back in January.
After taking a 90% salary cut, Derrick Rose is currently the 55th highest-paid point guard signed for next season. pic.twitter.com/tg8JpVLo8R— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 25, 2017
Though he had his best statistical season since 2011-12 last year with the Knicks, averaging 18.0 points, 4.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 47.1 per cent shooting, the Cavaliers offer an opportunity to play with better talent and in more meaningful games.
Rose doesn’t solve Cleveland’s defensive issues or offer much more than Irving does on that end of the floor, but his ability to drive and finish at the rim, while also being a capable passer to open spot-up shooters, should be an asset.
An adjustment period may be necessary, but the low-cost flyer the Cavaliers are taking on Rose could end up helping both sides.
The speculation, as mild as it was, can now end. LeBron James won’t be traded within the next year, whether the Cleveland Cavaliers would consider it or not.
James will not waive his no-trade clause under any circumstance, regardless of how the ongoing situation with Kyrie Irving is resolved, according to ESPN.
The report states that the 32-year-old “is focused solely on competing for a championship as a member of the Cavs and will fulfil his contractual obligations, whatever unexpected circumstances may arise”.
While James has locked in with Cleveland for now, he hasn’t committed to staying beyond this coming season and could decline his player option for 2018-19 to test free agency next summer.
The idea of the Cavaliers even considering trading James seemed far-fetched, but became slightly more conceivable after ESPN’s report made Kyrie Irving’s trade request public.
Irving allegedly wants more of a starring role and no longer wants to play alongside James, whether due to a disconnect or with the foresight the four-time MVP will bolt in free agency in a year.
LeBron James makes an interesting song choice after Kyrie Irving's trade demand. 👀🤔— NBA SKITS (@NBA_Skits) July 22, 2017
The trade request wasn’t made public until a couple weeks after Irving informed the Cavaliers of his desire, according to the report.
After Irving’s decision was kept in-house until recently, the point guard believes James leaked the request in an emotional response, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
While James wouldn’t stand to benefit from leaking the news, as it would damage Irving’s trade value and the Cavaliers’ leverage to make a move, it would be in-line with his passive-aggressive character, which has in the past included scathing subtweets seemingly directed at team-mates.
Irving’s request made a James trade at least worth theorising considering the long-term ramifications for the organisation.
By moving James, Cleveland would once again be able to hand the keys to Irving and restore his role as face of the franchise, perhaps changing his mind of wanting to depart.
On the other hand, by trading Irving either for a package of win-now players or future assets, the Cavaliers would potentially become either slightly worse in the short-term or signal the start of a rebuild, respectively. In either case, James would have less incentive to stick around next summer.
Hence why preemptively trading James before he can again leave the team without fetching anything in return would make some sense.
By indicating he’ll flex his no-trade clause, however, James has left Cleveland with little choice but to appease his win-now mentality and hope it’s enough to keep him.
The Cavaliers are in a state of flux and may have no right answer.
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.
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.
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.