Kyrie Irving has become the next superstar to put on the trading block. He has requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and given them several of his preferred destinations. According to ESPN, the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Miami Heat are on the short list of Irving’s favored new locations. Irving’s wishes will not sway the Cavaliers hopes of searching for a king’s ransom for their star point guard. Recently, the NBA has shown us the value of stars has not been what we all thought it was with the trades of Demarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, and Paul George. With another star on the block, the Suns must determine if they should take a shot at the all-star point guard.
The Suns have slowly crept back towards NBA mediocrity with a youth movement similar to that of the Philadelphia 76ers. The team has allowed its younger players to grow and flourish, while finishing close to the bottom of the pack the past few year resulting in high lottery picks. With a team still developing into what it will become one day, Kyrie Irving is not the answer.
Firstly, Kyrie Irving has already given us a look at a few of the teams he would like to play for. The group includes a contender in the Spurs, teams that are developing in the Heat and Timberwolves, and lastly a team in complete rebuild, the Knicks. This should raise concerns for the Suns. I understand that the Cavaliers do not have to listen to Irving’s request, but Irving is under contract through 2018-2019, where he then has a player option for 2019-2020. Irving will most likely opt out of his current contract, and look for a big payday in 2019. With the list of preferred trade locations, we have to wonder if Irving will even think about resigning with the Suns. Why would he request to be traded to somewhere he wouldn’t want to be? This short list would most likely be the list of Irving’s selected free-agent destinations in 2019. Another question that arises is will we want to pay Irving, what he wants, when many younger Suns will need to be paid, such as Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and even Josh Jackson.
Now let’s assume Irving does not have any issues with playing in Phoenix, and sees a future with the team. Is he actually worth what the Cavaliers will want for him. In my opinion, Eric Bledsoe will probably be dealt in any deal for Irving. They are both talented point guards and neither will probably want to take a backseat to the other. The Suns have also been trying to deal away Bledsoe’s contract for a while. There are many other assets that could be included to get the deal. The Cavs are trying to continue building for now with Lebron James still in Cleveland, but besides Bledsoe they will most likely need to ask for a building block of the Sun’s future. There is not a lot of extra veteran talent that would appeal to the contending Cavs, or Lebron. The Cavs would most likely ask about youth on the Suns, and look to a future without Lebron. They may end up with a package of Bledsoe, Chriss/Bender, and a protected future pick at least. I personally do not think it is worth taking away potential from the future to add a single star. Bender and Chriss have so much potential as younger players, and we have no idea what they may develop into. It is too early to give up on either of these players and lose sight of the main goal, winning a championship. Now may not be the best time to cash in for a star. The Suns are trying to rebuild in a star-studded West and we have to ask how far could Kyrie actually take us.
We can not expect Kyrie Irving to become Russell Westbrook. Westbrook carried the young Thunder core to the sixth seed in the West pretty much on his own. Although I would say that the Sun’s core is much stronger than the Thunder’s last year, most likely Irving will not go on an MVP run similar to Westbrook’s. This leads me to my final point. Irving offers a slight increase of talent at one position, while we would have to give up the future of a few to get the deal done. We have watched as the top-tier of NBA teams have needed several stars to be competitive in the league. Irving, Lebron, and Love lost to the Warriors in the Finals this past year. Irving was playing alongside one of the best players in the world, and was still unsuccessful against the best team in the West. I am not even positive that Irving would make the Suns close to a playoff team in the West. Kyrie Irving makes the team better for the next couple of seasons, but can you see him being a key factor in the team when Booker and Jackson are running the show?