The 2017 offseason has been a rough one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. First, rumors about LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers next summer started popping up. Then general manager David Griffin’s contract was not renewed and the team went weeks without a GM. There’s the fact that the Cavaliers had very little cap space and no real way to improve their roster. Finally, Kyrie Irving has requested a trade and rumors say there is a lot of animosity between Irving and LeBron. Now that’s a bad summer.
For Cleveland, their present and future is now in serious doubt. On one hand, with the current roster the Cavaliers are favorites to win the Eastern Conference. On the other, one of the best players in NBA history is rumored to have a foot out the door, and another of their stars wants out too. While LeBron has the ability to leave the team next summer, Irving is still under contract at least another two years (with another year possible due to a player option).
It will be curious to see how the Cavaliers deal with Irving’s trade demand, the team has no real incentive to deal him now. Trading Irving before the upcoming season would likely make them a worse team, and a down year for the Cavaliers could mark the end of LeBron in a Cavs uniform. However, it is possible that Irving’s trade value is higher now than it will be next season because his contract will only have one (possibly two) years left.
Irving reportedly wants to be traded the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, or New York Knicks. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, those teams do not have much in the way of assets that will help the Cavaliers get better now. The Heat could build a package around Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow, but that does not seem like enough for Cleveland. Minnesota could trade Andrew Wiggins back to the team that drafted him, but that is more of a long-term move for the Cavs, and time is not on their side. Of course, the Cavaliers can send Irving wherever they deem fit because he does not have a no trade clause. If Irving is traded, it certainly is not a lock that he would be moved to one of his four preferred destinations.
The Cavaliers are in a tough spot, but not an impossible one. The Lakers won multiple championships with Shaq and Kobe hating each other. Winning a title with disgruntled players is possible. The best thing for the Cavaliers is to stand pat. This same team is coming off of back to back Finals appearances. The Cavaliers cannot jeopardize what possibly is their last season to win a title with LeBron just because Irving is upset.