NBA Rumor: Kyrie Irving Trade?

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But Woj also seemed to suggest that if Irving is prepared to wait till January for mayoral action, rather than get vaccinated, the Nets might not be as patient as they’ve publicly said, including in an interview with Joe Tsai last Thursday. Woj in fact reiterated that the Nets are taking calls from teams interested in trading for Irving. “Now, that’s two months away before he takes office on January 1. The Brooklyn Nets, they have been getting calls about Kyrie Irving, about their interest in discussing trades with them. So how does this fit into the Nets timetable if Kyrie is going to wait into January to see what happens with the new mayor of New York City, how does that affect how the Nets move forward? There’s a lot to watch here, Greenie.”

Nets have taken calls for Kyrie Irving

Wojnarowski’s report surfaces in relation to the Philadelphia 76ers’ standoff with a trade of Ben Simmons. “Daryl Morey has called all over the league, talked to teams about star players everywhere to try to find a deal for Ben Simmons,” said Wojnarowski. “One team he has not called, I’m told, is the Brooklyn Nets. He has not lobbed a call to Sean Marks about Kyrie Irving. “Brooklyn, I’m told, has taken incoming calls from teams on Kyrie Irving. They have not themselves made any calls on Kyrie Irving.”

As our Alec Sturm tweeted off the podcast, Woj was not optimistic about the Nets situation, saying the organization doesn’t have much if any hope that Irving will get vaccinated. “The bottom line is, Kyrie Irving is not vaccinated,” said Woj. “At this point he doesn’t sound as though he is about to get vaccinated to be able to return and play for this Nets team. And the Nets are preparing for the fact that’s he’s not gonna be there.”

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).

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.

Kyrie Irving could consider retirement if traded?

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?

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.”

Kyrie Irving: A Puppet

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.”

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.

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.”

LeBron James, who can be a free agent at season’s end, is frustrated by the team’s prolonged rut, and has made it no secret in recent weeks that he felt Irving shouldn’t have been traded. But, according to multiple sources, James ultimately asked the Cavs’ front office not to trade Kyrie Irving after the request was made known, promising to bridge the apparent gap with him. And James was told the Cavs believed they had no choice but to trade Irving.

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.”

“(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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.”
4 years ago via ESPN

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.

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.”

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.
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November 27, 2021 | 9:00 pm EST Update