Before the start of the 2013-2014 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a lot of excitement surrounding their young team. More than halfway through the year, though, that enthusiasm is dwindling.
Even in a weak Eastern Conference, the Cavs currently find themselves out of the playoffs. At 16-30, they hold 11th seed and trail the Indiana Pacers by 19.5 games in the Central Division. In addition to Cleveland’s losing record, a report has surfaced that the team’s best player no longer wants to be a Cavalier.
According to Chad Ford of ESPN, Kyrie Irving is not happy in Cleveland. The point guard leads the team in scoring and assists, but it hasn’t translated into many wins.
“Kyrie Irving has been telling people privately he wants out,” reports Ford. “Cleveland can’t afford to lose him and LeBron. They know the urgency. I expect them to be major players at the deadline.”
Ford indicates that Cleveland could be looking to make a move because of Irving. Perhaps the Cavs will look to add talent in order to satisfy the 21-year-old, who has yet to play for a winning team in his three-year career. The organization acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls, but the Cavs are just 4-7 with him in the lineup.
Irving might want to leave Cleveland, but he won’t become a free agent until the summer of 2016 at the earliest. He’s set to make a little more than $7 million next year, and if he takes a $9.1 million qualifying offer in 2015-2016, he’ll be free to go at season’s end.
Because of his contract situation, the Cavs have little incentive to trade Irving anytime soon. He’s obligated to play for them at a relatively inexpensive price, and having him at point guard makes Cleveland a much more attractive option for free agents. The summer of 2014 will feature the best free agent class in history, with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony becoming available. It’s not likely that the Cavs will trade their best player, especially when they might have a legitimate shot to bring back James.
However, if Ford is right that Cleveland will be active at the deadline, there would be teams lining up to trade for one of the best young players in the NBA. Only a few, though, could offer something that the Cavs would even consider in exchange for Irving.
The Boston Celtics might have what it takes to land Irving. A swap between Irving and Rajon Rondo could satisfy both parties if indeed the Cavs try to move their young star. Rondo has been involved in trade rumors for over a year, and it’s not inconceivable that Boston would look to move him.
The Toronto Raptors could also work themselves into a trade conversation. Kyle Lowry has been as good as any point guard in the Eastern Conference this year, and the organization has stockpiled draft picks with trades involving the likes of Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay.
Irving denies the report that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland. In response, he said he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be with the Cavs for a long time.