NBA rumors: Thunder a possible trade destination for Kyrie Irving?

If the Nets do get to a point of no return, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the type of team that makes sense as a possible trade partner. The Thunder can absorb the entire Irving contract and save Brooklyn $145 million in salary and tax penalties for this season. More important, the Nets would go under the luxury tax for this season and stop the clock as it pertains to the repeater tax penalty in the future.

More on Kyrie Irving Trade?

Rival teams believe the Nets would be open to a significant trade offer for Irving, but his openness to playing for other franchises is unclear. Irving will be fully eligible in all markets except New York City and San Francisco. Brooklyn is on a championship chase, wanting the commitment of every player on their roster, now dealing with the cloud of uncertainty regarding a member of its big three.
One thing is for sure — at least for now. While an Irving trade for Ben Simmons with Philadelphia is seen by some as an easy solution to both teams’ problems, sources with knowledge of the 76ers’ view said there is no interest in Irving at the moment. From management on down, it seems there is an unsurprising level of skepticism about that pairing working out any better than the Joel Embiid-Simmons duo that is zombified at the moment.
Now to be clear, Simmons’ camp has not scratched Brooklyn off its list of potential get-out-of-Philadelphia scenarios. They still see it as a possibility — however remote. As we chronicled in a recent roundtable, it’s still widely believed that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is holding out for either Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal (I would posit, by the way, that Lillard is all by himself when it comes to the Sixers’ dream targets).
There is no indication — yet — that the 76ers have an interest in exploring the Simmons-for-Kyrie Irving trade being thrown around as the natural “solution” for two Atlantic Division teams facing major headaches to start the season. Reason being: It is not at all the obvious solution it would appear to be on paper. There is a belief in some corners of the league that Irving would retire, or at least deeply ponder it, if Brooklyn suddenly traded him. The 29-year-old is also a challenge to manage in the best of times and can become a free agent as soon as next summer if he declines his lucrative player option for the 2022-23 season. Forget how tantalizing it is to imagine Brooklyn adding Simmons’ playmaking and defense. Does any of this sound like a palatable solution for Philly?
Yet several league sources with knowledge of the situation strongly pushed back on the notion that either Irving or the Nets are looking to make such a move. "Kyrie came to Brooklyn to win a championship alongside Kevin Durant," one veteran executive told B/R. James Harden's confidants, sources said, have communicated they expect Irving to be part of Brooklyn for the foreseeable future.
And throughout Irving's tenure with the franchise, Nets officials have worked patiently with him behind closed doors, sources said. Whenever the electric ball-handler seemingly ruffles feathers inside the organization—such as missing seven games early last season in January because of "personal reasons"—management has worked through adversity with empathy.
"I'm sure Sean Marks and Steve Nash aren't thrilled with the situation, but despite all the s--t that goes on, they still treat him really well there," one league source with knowledge of the situation said. "They hear him out. They make the effort to try and communicate with him. That's why Brooklyn is a special place."
Several team officials observed that Irving being sidelined for 41 contests could even boost the Nets' title chase. Injuries prevented Irving, Durant and Harden from appearing in more than eight regular-season games together last season and hampered Brooklyn's effort to defeat the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs. "The game that Brooklyn's playing is to literally survive and advance," one league source with knowledge of the situation said. "That's 41 less games Kyrie has a chance to get injured."
“I would go upstairs and say, ‘Get him up out of here,” Shaq said. “We can win with a two-punch and a great shooter and some rebounders like we got. Get his ass up out of here. “Of course, if I played with him, I’d be in charge all the way, all day,” Shaq added.
Kyrie Irving: A Puppet

https://twitter.com/getnickwright/status/1438188133162627074
Former Bleacher Report and Esquire editor Matt Sullivan dropped some bombs on Kyrie Irving on his podcast Celtics Lab, where he revealed the supposed rift between the star and the Brooklyn Nets – one large enough to consider a trade. “I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s pause, especially that maskless party that turned his pseudo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings — whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason.”
Another source questioned why either team would make that deal, specifically saying it doesn’t do enough to address Philadelphia’s need for leadership. The source suggested the Kings could make a serious play for Simmons if they make De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton available. Some believe the 76ers could make a move for Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard instead.
Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
Matt Sullivan: “Let me give you guys a little news, I’m not sure that’s been out there. I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings – whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason. Now, I’m not sure what the market for Kyrie is at this point. It’s not like Ben Simmons giving you the headache on the court. It’s that complex personality that comes from off the court. I think it’s been annoying some people in the franchise. I can’t speak to his teammates, who obviously want to play with one of the world’s best and get him back there.”
It is unclear when Kyrie Irving will return to the Brooklyn Nets as he remains away from the team for personal reasons. "Today before this went down, I had a conversation with four or five people with teams and of course Kyrie was a huge topic of conversation in the league today," said Brian Windhorst. "I asked 'what do you guys think the trade market for Kyrie Irving is right now? Let's say something happened and they had to trade him.' "And the answers that I got were wild. Wild! I got everything from.. and these were general managers and assistant general managers. "I got everything from 'I think you can still get two firsts for him' to 'You can attach him in as filler.' I got that level of [differing opinions]."
Nick Wright: If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks. Question for Joe Tsai is is he willing to make a similar bet Prokhorov made shortly after he bought the team: Mortgaging all future assets & future abilities to improve the team for a chance to win the title right now, especially when the Harden-Kyrie fit is questionable at best.
For now, the Sixers are unwilling to include All-Stars Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in trades, and the Rockets are uninterested in a package primarily composed of the Nets' complementary players and draft picks, sources said. The Nets aren't interested in trading Kyrie Irving, nor have the Rockets expressed an interest in acquiring him, sources said. For starters, the Nets and Rockets would need to find a more palatable young player on a third team as part of a broader deal, sources said, and there's no indication that prospect has gained any traction in recent weeks.
CJ Mc McCollum: “I like LeVert. I like Dinwiddie, I like Jarett Allen. I like the picks. But for Houston, you went all in on James, you brought in James, like his preferred players." Don't you have to ask for Kyrie in return? CJ McCollum: “Yeah, for Kyrie I would do it.”
With Kyrie Irving being dragged into the Anthony Davis circus and then seemingly opening the door to questions about whether he will stay with the Celtics after this season, some league execs saw an opening. Looking for a quick score, they thought the All-Star guard might be available in advance of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. But that notion has, according to league sources, been summarily quashed. Said one general manager, “Boston’s not taking calls on Kyrie. That was made pretty clear.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: “Essentially, having Boston in the bidding, who is the team with the most draft picks, several outstanding young players and a really motivated team to try to acquire Anthony Davis it only elevates everyone else’s offers in the trade process and Boston is going to be there. And I think, Boston has sent a message to the Pelicans, ‘Be patient. Wait for us, we are going to be in this and we’re going to be willing to talk about essentially everyone on our roster outside of Kyrie Irving.’ So, I think right now it’s put New Orleans very much in a holding pattern and it’s really dampened the possibility of the [Los Angeles] Lakers being able to do what they’d love to do, is get a deal done prior to the trade deadline. New Orleans has no interest in acquiescing Anthony Davis to the Lakers right now.”
Due to that and rumblings that Irving wants to team up with Jimmy Butler, the New York Knicks already lead the race as Kyrie’s potential team of choice, according to ESPN’s Summer Forecast. ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz maintains that the Celtics and Irving have a mutual understanding of where their relationship is. “My best intel is that the Celtics and Kyrie have a pretty good mutual understanding that he wasn’t going to get traded in the offseason and that there are long-term aspirations for both parties,” said Arnovitz. “Anything can happen over the course of an eight-month season, but I kind of like him staying.”
Gorman doesn’t think it’s likely the Celtics trade Irving but if the team is serious in its pursuit of Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, Irving might have to be part of any legitimate offer the Celtics make. “Again, if you’re talking about the big guy from New Orleans [Anthony Davis] then you’re going to have to be talking about a really really, good player going back the other way. And that’s the only other player that the Celtics really would put everyone on the table for.”
Irving is under contract this season and then has an opt out. The assumption has been all along that he would decline the player option and then sign a max-deal with Boston who can pay him the most money. Slam dunk right? Gorman says he doesn’t “think it’s a given” anymore. “I think Kyrie’s record over the course of his career would tell you that injuries have been a problem,” said Gorman. “I think you have to be smart here and look at what the facts are, and understand that they may be a problem going forward too.”
He has pointed to overall happiness and the desire to grow on and off the floor as the driving force behind his trade request. And he did that again Tuesday morning, keeping any other reasons private, while hoping to move forward with his new team, one that appears to be the Cavs' biggest East threat. "I kind of want to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to continue to dive into a narrative they have no idea about and probably will never, ever be divulged because it's not important," Irving said. "This was literally just a decision I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don't want to pinpoint anything, I will never pinpoint anything because that's not what real grown-ups do. They continue to move on with their life and continue to progress and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
"I'm excited to be back. I'm excited to get the season started. It's a little different for all of us. But my six years being here they were something that helped me evolve as a man and coming in here every single night and strapping up my shoelaces for the Cleveland Cavaliers was something awesome," Irving said prior to the Celtics' shootaround Tuesday morning. "Now I start a new journey, a new step in my career. Ready to get it started, but I'm always truly grateful for them welcoming me with open arms and making sure that me and my family were always supported. Ultimately my love will never change that I have for Cleveland."
Asked about those inflammatory comments, calling Boston a "real, live sports city," Irving tried to explain. "I mean, of course it was going to turn into a comparison," Irving said. "I was talking about driving into Boston. When I'm actually on the highway driving into Boston, the newness and the new environment of going into that city is something different for me. It kind of worked out that I was talking to Marc Spears and it turned into a comparison of me comparing Boston to Cleveland and it wasn't anything like that."
Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert said he and his teammates were not surprised Kyrie Irving asked to be traded, but lamented that players and fans twisted in the wind for the month between the All-Star's request and departure to Boston. "We all knew certain things about this team that's tough," Shumpert told Complex News' "Everyday Struggle" in a wide-ranging interview.
"(People say) it's LeBron and Kyrie hate each other," Shumpert said. "No, it's two dudes that need the ball. LeBron needs the ball, Kyrie needs the ball, Kevin (Love) needs the ball. Swish (J.R. Smith) can't shoot unless he has the ball. Kyle Korver can't shoot unless he has the ball." Shumpert, who is a friend to Irving, said the two still talk. He said "it could be awkward for a little bit" between James, Irving, and Love (there has been no mention of any tension between Irving and Love in media reports), but "it ain't gonna last."
Draymond Green has heard the criticism lobbed in Kyrie Irving’s direction. He’s heard how Irving was selfish for wanting to leave the side of LeBron James, how he was foolish for wanting to prove he could strike out on his own and do his own thing. Green, though, took Irving’s trade request, which led to him being dealt from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics, in a far different vein than most: His level of respect for the all-star point guard rose.
“Most people would probably say, ‘LeBron is the greatest player in the world,’ ” Green, who faced Irving in the past three NBA Finals, said. “I don’t say this in disrespect to LeBron … but speaking of Kyrie, to say, ‘I don’t want to play with him no more. I want to do my own thing.’ You have to deliver with that. He’s basically saying, ‘I’m ready to deliver.’ That’s big. That says a lot.”
As for Irving telling reporters during his introductory press conference in Boston that he hadn’t spoken to LeBron James since reports that he wanted out of Cleveland first surfaced? Shumpert, as has been the team line for weeks, thinks there’s nothing to that. “There’s no hard feelings,” he said. “And I’m sure Ky at some point is going to talk to everybody, the same way he talked to me. Ky’s a regular dude. He’s going to compete and he knows we’re going to be out looking for him when we play Boston. It’s all fine.”
Guys go down next to LeBron James year after year, yet very little has stopped the party since 2007 -- and not at all since 2010. And while a whole lot of people got their knickers twisted when Cleveland temporarily braked the deal, the end result was as good as anyone in Northern Ohio could expect, given the complete lack of leverage the Cavaliers had once Irving’s trade demands and unhappiness became public. (No, Koby Altman’s future as a GM isn’t ruined; everyone around the league knows the straight jacket every Cleveland exec is in, with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert driving the bus. Hey, he paid for the bus; he can drive it if he wants. Altman did a hell of a job getting what he got.)
But that doesn’t mean this whole rigmarole with Irving sits well in JamesWorld. You don’t chase Michael Jordan’s ghost with fresh new faces; you need grunts like the guy who went all over France looking for Private Ryan. Irving had earned his stripes and LeBron James was expecting a grand pursuit of Paul George or Jimmy Butler this summer to close the gap with the Golden State Warriors, not losing one of his best teammates and having to scramble.
Anyway, James can afford to be sanguine about his future. Wherever he plays, championship opportunities follow. The Cavs don’t have that luxury. Which is why they were never going to blow up the proposed deal from the Celtics. That deal held the key to their future -- their post-LeBron future. There was no chance they were going to walk away from that. The unprotected 2018 pick, whether it’s the first pick next June or the fifth, gives Cleveland a chance at a pre-20-year-old talent that it never would have a shot at through the rest of this decade, and probably well into the next.
Danny Ainge had to pull the trigger. The gulf between the Cavs and Celtics in the conference finals last year was enormous. Boston couldn’t match Cleveland’s firepower, whether in the halfcourt or in transition. The NBA is all about scoring, and if you have enough elite two-way players like Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on your team, you have a chance to be able to play enough defense to win big. The Celtics had very good defenders in Crowder and Amir Johnson, but you couldn’t start two non-scoring threats against the Cavs. Kyrie Irving is the best -- the best -- player in the league with the basketball. Better than Westbrook, who’s electric and fierce, and John Wall, who’s a blur. There’s no one who can stay in front of Irving; he goes from zero to scalding in about four seconds.
Tom Westerholm: Kyrie says he wouldn't call it "issues" in Cleveland. Says it was an unbelievable ride, but says he's excited to be a part of Boston.
What the Cavs accomplished late Wednesday night was officially turning the page from the Kyrie Irving era in Cleveland and gave the franchise options in both the short and long term. "We're just really excited about the possibilities of this deal for us," a Cavs decision-maker told ESPN after the Miami pick was included to finally put the trade to bed.

http://twitter.com/BrianTRobb/status/903308869790773249
Koby Altman may be the latest person to call himself Cleveland Cavaliers general manager—the fourth in the past 12 years since Dan Gilbert bought the team—but multiple sources have told me that the Cavs owner was the one calling the shots on the trade that sent Irving to Boston, and he’s the one dealing with the fallout. Gilbert’s dysfunctional ways are old news. Gilbert himself joked during Altman’s introductory presser that his GMs have four-year presidential terms. “A state of organizational chaos is Gilbert’s M.O.,” one executive told me. “Gilbert thinks he’s the protagonist in the story of the Cavaliers, when, in reality, he’s the antagonist.”
Gilbert’s fingerprints were all over the drama that’s unfolded over the past week. Thomas’s health is what held up the deal, but according to multiple league sources with knowledge of Cleveland’s thought process, the unprotected Nets pick and Crowder were the pieces that Cleveland valued the most—those were the assets that got the deal done, not Thomas. The perception of the trade was that the Cavaliers and Celtics swapped franchise point guards, but for the Cleveland front office (and its owner), Thomas was the icing, not the cake.
A front-office executive from another team inquiring about Irving told me that knowing LeBron was staying in Cleveland would have changed what the Cavs asked for in return for Kyrie. Though a wide range of league sources believe LeBron is LeGone, it’s not certain. Regardless, Cleveland doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed.
The Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers this evening jointly announced the following: In conjunction with finalizing the trade involving Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a 2018 1st round pick the Celtics acquired via Brooklyn, the Celtics and Cavaliers have agreed to modify the terms of the trade such that Boston will also send Miami’s 2020 2nd round pick to Cleveland.
The Celtics resisted the Cavaliers' desire for a first-round pick to compensate the Cavs' reluctance to sign off on Isaiah Thomas' hip injury, and Cleveland finally agreed to consummate the deal late Wednesday night. Irving is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference in Boston on Friday, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Cleveland, Boston have reached an agreement, league source tells ESPN.
Joe Vardon: The Cavs and Boston have reached agreement; Boston will send Miami's 2020 second round pick, league source says
So, the Cavaliers and Celtics are discussing how to complete their trade, which is held up by Thomas’ physical. Will the Cavs request another pick? If they don’t get it, will they void the deal entirely? Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin on NBA TV: “Sometimes in these situations, you think of it as mutually assured destruction. There’s not a lot of upside to deal coming undone for either side. And because of that, I think it will end up going through as is.”
The Milwaukee Bucks have repeatedly been included in trade rumors surrounding Irving, with rookie of the year Malcolm Brogdon and guard Khris Middleton often mentioned in the potential offers. However, according to a league source who spoke with the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday, there is "nothing" to these reports. In fact, the source says there have not even been conversations between the Bucks and Cavaliers.
The Cleveland-Boston standoff over Isaiah Thomas's health also signaled the rest of the league: The bidding for Kyrie Irving is still open. It looks unlikely the Cleveland Cavaliers will pry a better haul than the Boston Celtics' standing offer of Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected pick in the 2018 draft -- even with Thomas' status so uncertain due to a lingering hip injury. That may embolden Boston to draw the line at one or two more second-round picks after Cleveland finally asked them Tuesday night for extra compensation.
All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas believes he will fully recover from a right hip injury that has threatened to void his recent trade to Cleveland. Thomas, who was dealt by the Boston Celtics to the Cavaliers last week for star Kyrie Irving, told ESPN he has made progress in his recovery. "I am not damaged," the 28-year-old said. "I'll be back, and I'll be the same player."
Thomas told ESPN that doctors said his torn labrum will not affect how long he plays. However, Thomas did indicate he may not be ready for the start of the season. "There's never been an indication that I wouldn't be back, and there's never been an indication that this is something messing up my career," he said. "Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I'm going to be back, and I'm going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that."
"I haven't had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career," Thomas said in the ESPN interview. "Surgery was not the best option in this case. I aggravated it in March when (Minnesota's) Karl-Anthony Towns fell on me. I kept playing on it and making it worse — until I couldn't play anymore last season."
Given how far along the two sides are and what the Cavs are getting in return for disgruntled point guard Kyrie Irving -- Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and Brooklyn's 2018 unprotected first round pick -- former Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin believes protege Koby Altman should proceed as planned, saying he would make the same deal if still running the front office. "I think I would have," Griffin told NBA TV late Tuesday night. "I really think Koby Altman made a tremendous trade here, given the circumstances. When you're trying to win a championship, there is no in between. You're all the way with me, or you're all the way against me. And I think this was a situation where Kyrie made it clear he had a goal set that might not have jived with what Cleveland's was.
"They made a deal that, even in the absence of Isaiah Thomas, is a tremendous collection of assets and value Koby was able to get. At the same time, Boston made a trade to get a piece that really could be the key for them -- a 25-year old player in his prime who is an NBA champion, an Olympic champion and is really just starting to scratch the surface of who he can be."
In talking to several NBA executives, most believe Irving had to be traded. If he doesn't want to play with James ... well ... that is a problem. James remains the greatest player in the world. The vast majority of NBA players want to be on the same team as James. It's a ticket to the NBA Finals.
Several executives told me that Irving put the Cavaliers in an awful spot by making his trade demand after the draft. For example, if the Cavs had known sooner, they could have sent him to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.
The Cavaliers declined to comment on a new ESPN report that the team would seek further compensation for Kyrie Irving because of the severity of Isaiah Thomas' hip injury. Two Cavs sources said Saturday night only that the team was "still in the review process" in determining what do about the week's blockbuster trade with Boston, in which Cleveland agreed to ship Irving to the Celtics for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn's No. 1 pick.
A Cavs source said the two sides need to reach a conclusion by Wednesday evening or mutually agree to extend the deadline. Though the Cavs could void the trade based on Thomas' injury, a source with knowledge of Cleveland's thinking still expected a deal to get done. However, numerous report said out of Boston suggested the Celtics were not happy with the Cavs' tactics and may take a hard line.
The Cavaliers' stance could trigger a standoff between Cleveland and Boston officials, forcing both organizations to weigh the consequences of letting blockbuster trade implode. The deadline to report and submit to a physical for the players involved in the trade is 10 a.m. on Wednesday, and the deadline to pass the physical is 10 a.m. on Thursday, per league rules.
A Cavs source said the two sides need to reach a conclusion by Wednesday evening or mutually agree to extend the deadline. Though the Cavs could void the trade based on Thomas' injury, sources still expect a deal to get done.
The Cavaliers are indeed pausing to consider a "concern that we have" regarding Isaiah Thomas' right hip, a source told cleveland.com, while Kyrie Irving is undergoing his physical today in Boston. Two sources with knowledge of the Cavs' thinking said the team is conducting a "very deep and thorough review process" on Thomas, whom Cleveland acquired Tuesday in a blockbuster trade along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn No. 1 pick for Irving.
In the aftermath of issues resulting from Isaiah Thomas' physical examination on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are planning a telephone call for Saturday to discuss the status of the teams' blockbuster trade, league sources told ESPN. The proposed deal sending Cleveland's four-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round pick via Brooklyn has been thrust into uncertainty with medical questions surrounding Thomas' injured hip, league sources told ESPN.
It is possible that Cleveland could request further compensation from Boston before it'll approve the trade, league sources said. Cleveland has until Thursday to make a final decision on approving the trade, sources said. Cleveland can veto the deal based on a failed physical, sending players back to their respective teams. Thomas took the exam in Cleveland on Friday before flying back home to the West Coast, league sources said. "It's very sensitive situation," one source involved in the process told ESPN.
Irving, who had requested a trade from Cleveland, is set to take his physical with the Celtics on Saturday, league sources said. Thomas has been rehabilitating a hip injury that ended his season in the Eastern Conference Finals, and sources have told ESPN that the All-Star guard has yet to begin a regimen of running this offseason.
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