Kyrie Irving trade rumors started to resurface within the past couple of days. The Cavaliers are starting to plan their future without LeBron James, as it seems they expect him to leave Cleveland after this upcoming season. It is reported that the Cavaliers top target is Knicks’ young superstar, Kristaps Porzingis. Knicks fans, including myself, have grown to absolutely LOVE Kristaps. He loves New York and his personality fits the city perfectly. He seems to be a star in the making. If you are the Knicks do you give up Kristaps for Kyrie? ABSOLUTELY. I will explain why, but first let us look at the possible scenario.
New York Knicks: Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers: Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah
No draft picks will be traded in this scenario. The Cavaliers try to pry one away from the Knicks, but the Knicks will not include one in a deal involving Porzingis. The real prize for the Cavs is Kristaps, so they are happy with acquiring him even if it means no draft pick. The Cavaliers also take on Noah’s contract to even out the deal. Why would the Cavaliers take on this contract? Once again, KRISTAPS PORZINGIS. Kyrie does not want to be in Cleveland, he has made that very known. The Cavaliers are not going to get anyone with more upside and as cheap as Porzingis. The Knicks have the upper hand in this deal even though they are getting the better player. Kyrie ruined the Cavaliers’ trading negotiations once he came out and said he wants to be traded.
Why should the Knicks do it?
I have a feeling I may get destroyed for writing this article. They will say, “How dare you trade away Kristaps. He is the future of the Knicks. He is the next best thing. He is Dirk Nowitzki 2.0.” Yes, Porzingis has the skill set that Dirk has. However, I do not think most people realize how great of a career Dirk has had.
- 2006-07 NBA MVP
- 2011 Finals MVP
- NBA Champion
- 13x All-Star
- 12x All-NBA Team
- 6th all time in points (and counting)
- 7th all time in games played (and counting)
- 7th all time in free throws made (and counting)
- 14th all time in 3 pointers made (and counting)
- 29th all time in rebounds (and counting)
- HOF probability: 100%
If you can truly believe that Kristaps will live up to those accomplishments, then yeah I would not trade him. Let’s be real. It will be a long shot that he will even come close to that! Just take games played for example. Kristaps is only 22 years old and has already missed time due to injury. Some of the injuries he has had so far: sore foot, sore right shoulder, sore groin, sore achilles (twice), sprained right ankle and sore back. Does this sound like a player that will last in the NBA for 20 years? NOPE.
The debate basically comes down to Kyrie against Kristaps. So who do you think the better player is? I am going with Kyrie every single time. I will explain why Kyrie is the better player and option for the Knicks.
Kristaps is the younger player than Kyrie. As mentioned, Porzingis is 22, while Kyrie is 25. Yes, Porzingis is three years younger. However, the age really is not a factor when it comes to this discussion. Porzingis has a ton of potential left, but so does Kyrie. Even though Kyrie has been in the league for six years already, I believe he has not reached his full potential just yet.
When it comes to injuries, both players have had their fair share. Kyrie has missed time due to knee injuries, which can be recurring. However, he showed no signs this year that his knee was effecting him in anyway. Porzingis has also had some nagging injuries. For a big man, having issues with his feet and back is never a good sign. Just look at Yao Ming for example. The man was a monster and had all the potential in the world. He had some very good seasons, but did not deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in my opinion. His career was shortened because of injuries that often happen to guys over 7 feet.
Like I said both have had injury problems in their young careers, but I am giving the edge to Kyrie here. Kristaps has yet to have any big time surgery, but the career of a big man is just that much shorter due to the health problems they will face down the road. Kyrie has seemed to bounce back just fine from his knee problem and Porzingis seems to have a new injury too often.
Kyrie is owed roughly $19-20 million over each of the next two seasons. He has a player option that he can decide to decline before the 2019-20 season, which would make him a free agent. Porzingis is still on his rookie contract, therefore, he is very cheap right now. The Knicks would be able to extend Porzingis a Qualifying Offer before the 2019-20 season, making him a restricted free agent.
Porzingis seems to have the more friendly contract. However, I think both players would re-sign with the Knicks when the time comes. Once Kyrie gets a taste of the Big Apple, he will never want to leave. The endorsement deals that he can acquire from being in NYC will be too much for him to turn down. Not to mention the Knicks will be able to offer him more money than any other team. Porzingis is in the same exact situation and know what New York City is all about.
I have to give a slight edge to Porzingis just because he is cheaper than Kyrie right now, but in the end it will not matter much.
EDGE: Slightly Porzingis
Kyrie Irving take this and if you disagree you just do not know basketball. Kyrie set a career high last season in points per game when he averaged 25.2. In his first six NBA seasons he has a career 21.6 points per game. Kristaps is still raw, but I do not think he will ever be able to match Kyrie’s scoring ability. Kyrie is one of the better finishers in the NBA, while being able to shoot over 40% from beyond the arc. Kyrie is also a more efficient scorer than Porzingis. In his first two years in the NBA, Porzingis is a 44% shooter. For a big man, that is not very good. I know he takes a lot of outside shots, but he also should have the advantage of Kyrie since he works inside a lot as well. That is not the case. Kyrie is a career 46% shooter. For a guard this is pretty good and the fact that he has this over Porzingis shows that he is the all around better scorer. Kyrie is also a better free throw shooter, as he has a career 87 percent from the charity stripe compared to Porzingis’ 81 percent.
When it comes to rebounding and passing there is no debate. Kyrie is easily the better ball handler and distributer, while Porzingis is the better rebounder. You cannot debate these aspects of the game because of their positions. As a guard Kyrie will naturally be better with the ball, while as a big man Porzingis will naturally be better at grabbing boards.
When it comes to the defensive end, neither player is very good. Porzingis will make the highlight rejection at the rim, but besides that he has been a horrible defensive player up to this point in his career. When we look inside the numbers it actually shows that Kyrie is a slightly better defensive player than Kristaps. When it comes to efficiency, Kyrie is the better player when looking at the career numbers. I will break down both of their defensive and efficiency numbers below.
Kyrie: PER: 21.3, TS%: .561, DWS: 9.1, WS: 40.4, BPM: 2.9
Kristaps: PER: 17.6, TS%: .533, DWS: 5.0, WS: 8.9, BPM: 0.2
Now, I am not a fan of these advanced stats. However, they are used quite often in our game today so we cannot ignore them. Kyrie has the advantage over Kristaps in player efficiency rating, true shooting percentage, defensive win shares, win shares and box plus/minus. Numbers do not lie.
We all know the positions of the two players. Kyrie is a point guard, while Kristaps is a power forward/center. Let us take a look at the top four teams in each conference last year. You will see that they all have a solid starting point guard or some type of player that can control the game with the ball in his hands.
Celtics: Isaiah Thomas
Cavaliers: LeBron James
Raptors: Kyle Lowry
Wizards: John Wall
Warriors: Steph Curry
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard
Rockets: James Harden
Clippers: Chris Paul
YOU BUILD A TEAM AROUND A PLAYER WHO CONTROLS THE GAME. A point guard or, if you are lucky enough, a player like LeBron or Kawhi. Kyrie Irving can be that player for the Knicks, Kristaps cannot.
Kyrie Irving is the more clutch player between the two. A guy who you can give the ball to and trust to win the game for you is key. Not many teams have a player like that. The ones that do are usually successful. Take a lot at a few of Kyrie’s clutch moments.
Kyrie has ice in his veins! Kristaps has yet to prove he can be that type of player.
First Two Years
If I have not given you enough evidence yet, take a look at each player’s first two years combined.
Kyrie: PPG: 20.5, RPG: 3.7, APG: 21.4, PER: 21.4, 3P%: 40%, FG%: 46%, FT%: 87%, BPM: 3.3
Kristaps: PPG: 16.1, RPG: 7.3, APG: 1.4, PER: 17.6, 3P%: 35%, FG%: 44%, FT: 81%, BPM: 0.2
You have the numbers and convincing reasons as to why the Knicks should make this trade. Will they? Probably not because they never do the right thing. However, I really believe they should. I love Kristaps Porzingis. He has become my favorite player and I would hate to see him go, but I am tired of watching the Knicks lose. I believe Kyrie would be the first step in turning things around for the New York Knicks.