Kyrie Irving trade rumors are blazing a trail right through the NBA offseason with no sign of letting up.
We’ve already discussed why the Pistons wll not be trading for the disgruntled Cleveland point guard, but that’s not stopping the speculation — even by reputable sources like ESPN.
The World Wide Leader (tm) outlined their five best possible Kyrie Irving trades and the Detroit Pistons topped the list.
Clippers get: Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson and a future Pistons first-round pick
Pistons get: Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson
Cavaliers get: DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Jackson
This completely hypothetical trade scenario has the advantage of playing up a trade rumor from earlier this offseason involving supposed talks between Detroit and Los Angeles about a swap of big men.
Why would the teams agree to such a trade? Let’s hypothesize!
Why the Pistons would do it
The Pistons do it because they get the best player in the deal in Kyrie Irving. They also get a player in Tristan Thompson who can rebound and serve as the roll man. Thompson is overpriced and under contract for three more seasons, but one could say the same of both Drummond and Jackson.
Irving would get his wish to be the No. 1 option on offense. And the No. 2, 3 and 4 option as well. He would provide crucial perimeter spacing to allow the big man in his pick-and-roll game to flourish, and the Pistons could hide some of his deficiencies on defense by playing him alongside Avery Bradley.
With serious 3-point threats at the 1 and the 2 it allows Detroit to still run a functional, even effective, offense with meh 3-point options at small forward and power forward.
The Pistons would be going for broke here — sending out their two highest price players, a recent top-10 pick and a future first for the chance to build a more coherent roster. Huge risk and huge reward.
Why the Clippers would do it
They replace a 29-year-old DeAndre Jordan who is likely to opt out of his contract after next season with a younger version of himself in Drummond. Drummond isn’t Jordan’s equal as a defender, but he is an even better rebounder, is five years young and is under contract for the foreseeable future.
They also get to take a flyer on young lottery pick Stanley Johnson and a future first from Detroit, which, one would imagine, would be reasonably low in the first round. This gives the Clippers a chance to remain competitive while getting younger, adding certainty and offering a rebuild around Blake Griffin an extended shelf life.
Why the Cavaliers do it
The Cavs would be getting an upgrade at center in Jordan, an elite rebounder and quality defender. As Cleveland showed in the 2016 NBA Finals, having a solid interior defender and rebounder is perhaps the only way you can keep pace with the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors took a step forward with Kevin Durant and the Cavs took a step back as Thompson’s effectiveness was limited in last season’s rematch.
Why wouldn’t the Cavs just trade for the younger Drummond instead of Jordan, you ask? Because the Cavs title window is right now with LeBron James, and they have zero time to wait for Drummond’s defensive game to blossom.
The Cavs also really need a replacement point guard if they are going to ship Irving out of town, all disrespect intended toward the idea of Derrick Rose as a reasonable starting point guard.
Is Jackson good enough? He might be the best of a series of bad options. The Jackson of last season was essentially unplayable, but he was also working off an injury. If Jackson’s health returns, and he returns to the effectiveness he showed in Detroit in 2015-16 then that is a decent point guard option for the Cavs.
He’s got a scorer’s mentality and can take some of the pressure off LeBron and be a go-to option as a driver during the rare minutes LeBron is on the bench. The Cavs are loaded with shooters, which would complement Jackson’s game well.
How does this compare to ESPN’s other four deals?
Whether this is truly the best deal ESPN was able to come up with is in the eye of the beholder.
Deal No. 2
Suns get: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson
Cavaliers get: Eric Bledsoe, TJ Warren, Jared Dudley, Miami's 2021 unprotected first-round pick and first-round swap rights with Phoenix in 2018 (protected for picks Nos. 1-6; converts to second-rounders in 2018 and 2019 if not conveyed)
Deal No. 3
Suns get: Kyrie Irving, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez
Knicks get: Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert
Cavaliers get: Carmelo Anthony, Eric Bledsoe and Jared Dudley
Deal No. 4
Minnesota gets: Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith
Cleveland Cavaliers get: Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins
Note: Teague can be traded on Dec. 15.
Deal No. 5
Jazz get: Kyrie Irving and Edy Tavares
Cavaliers get: Dante Exum, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell