Stan Van Gundy has had “some level of conversation of conversation with the Cavs” about start point guard Kyrie Irving, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.
While Keith goes on to play down the newsworthiness of the report, it’s smoke as opposed to the speculation that has been rampant since Irving said he wanted out of Cleveland.
It also confirms with the report of Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press, who wrote:
A person with knowledge of the Pistons' front office told the Free Press recently that the organization is interested in the four-time NBA All-Star, who nailed the winning shot to clinch the 2016 NBA title for the Cavs.
While it’s always seemed a long shot for the Pistons to acquire the star point guard, the Pistons have made sense to outsiders as a landing spot. Last week ESPN floated the Pistons as one of their top five possibilities.
With such a tumultuous offseason already, not a ton of possibilities look to remain on the table for the Cavs if they choose to honor Irving’s request. Perhaps the highest profile player surrounded with trade rumors has been the Pistons Andre Drummond. Could it actually happen though?
Initial reports for what the Cavs are looking for out of Irving actually looks doable for the Pistons.
Clippers found out Cavs want veteran starter, young player on rookie contract and draft picks, per source. Clippers don't have that.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 28, 2017
That’s not too far off what ESPN suggested.
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
The Clippers seemed superfluous from the start in that hypothetical, as it seemed the Pistons could just send Drummond, Johnson, Jackson, and a first round pick for Irving and Thompson.
While that certainly seems a lot for the Pistons to part with, it’d be worth it. The Pistons were the lowest true shooting percentage team in the league last season, with Drummond, Jackson, and Johnson combining for 50 percent TS - well below the league average of 55.2 percent. Meanwhile, Irving and Thompson combined for 58.4 percent TS. That increase in scoring efficiency would be a incredible boost to the Pistons offense.
They’d also manage to replace a bulk of Drummond’s impact on the boards with Tristan Thompson, who has posted impressive rebounding numbers despite playing alongside other very good rebounders in LeBron James and Kevin Love.
While Detroit was not among Irving’s list of preferred destinations, they’d fit the bill in letting him shine as the face of the franchise. And both he and Thompson are under contract for multiple seasons moving forward.
The biggest concern for the Pistons is the potential of the players they’re moving.
If Drummond can figure out how to be efficient, consistent, and effective defensively, he’d one of the league’s elites. But that’s a lot of ifs and Kyrie already is one of the league’s elite scorers.
If Johnson can become competent offensively, he can be a very solid two way player. But he has quite a ways to go to reach competency on offense.
If Jackson is healthy, he’s a dynamic option at point guard. But if he’s not, he’s just a bad contract.
And adding in first round picks are always scary. But late first rounders usually aren’t incredibly valuable.
It’s easy to criticize Irving’s mentality for looking to leave a winning situation in Cleveland. But it’s not like the players the Pistons would be moving are known for being beacons of what you look for out of a player mentally. Johnson’s competitiveness is great, but even he has had some bumps on the mentality front in his short career.
The biggest question is whether the Cavs would pull the trigger on such a deal. If they are, it’d be a no-brainer for the Pistons.