What’s a more unthinkable NBA trade: the Cavaliers parting ways with Kyrie Irving or parting ways with LeBron James himself?
Stunningly, both could be on the table for stuffy Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Gilbert is (perhaps rightfully) paranoid that LeBron will leave the organization in shambles next offseason, and a monster transaction by the Cavs now seems imminent this summer.
The logical move is to trade Kevin Love, clearly the third wheel on the Cavs, in a “change for the sake of change” type of move. Bringing in LeBron’s buddy Carmelo Anthony from the Knicks would surely appease the Cavs star, but we don’t even know if Gilbert is still in “LeBron appeasing mode.”
It doesn’t seem like he is.
Gilbert canned GM David Griffin just a few days before the NBA Draft and LeBron (at least publicly) expressed his disappointment about the move on social media. Surely Griffin was sniffing around regarding trading Love. Was he too hesitant on the Love front for Gilbert’s liking, or was he just not looking hard enough at trading the right player?
Cleveland Scene Editor in Chief Vince Grzegorek interestingly tweeted the following on Monday: “In the rearview mirror now, but heard from very reliable source talks were very real … Cavs had deal in place pre-draft with Suns. Kyrie and something like Channing Frye to Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe and the 4th pick, Would have shipped the No. 4 to Indy for Paul George. Gilbert approached LeBron for a guarantee he’d stay in Cleveland longer than next season and didn’t get it and the deal died.”
For what it’s worth, Grzegorek’s Twitter profile reads like this: “Editor-in-Chief of @ClevelandScene. Previously Texas Roadhouse and Discount Drug Mart. Dan Gilbert calls me Vinnie.”
“Irving has been contacting some of his former Team USA mates, letting them know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially with the latest drama unfolding in Cleveland. Through back channels, Irving let it be known that he’d be interested in coming to Chicago.”
That nugget was dropped prior to the Bulls trading away Jimmy Butler, so it’s highly unlikely that Chicago is still an option.
The team that actually makes the most sense in an Irving trade is San Antonio. The Spurs are looking for an elite point guard to replace Tony Parker and may still be looking in a few weeks if Chris Paul re-ups with the Clippers. Last week San Antonio was reportedly looking to trade LaMarcus Aldridge in exchange for a top 10 draft pick. The Spurs were then looking to flip the pick for a superstar player like Paul George. Irving actually makes more sense for the Spurs – position-wise, but a trade with Cleveland would be extremely difficult to pull off. There would need to be at least one other team involved – a team with a deep collection of draft picks. A straight-up Aldridge for Irving swap wouldn’t make much sense on the Cleveland end of things for a variety of reasons.
Would the Cavs really trade LeBron!?
The idea that the Cavs would ever willingly trade LeBron is unheard of, but then again – we entered the era of the unheard of in the NBA when Kevin Durant joined a 73-win team last summer. The LeBron to the Lakers in 2018 whispers have grown into audible conversations in the past few weeks, so it might make some sense for Gilbert (or whomever is running the Cavs this summer) to contact Magic Johnson to see if he can get out ahead of this thing.
Gilbert would certainly ask for Brandon Ingram and other young Lakers in a potential trade. LeBron has a rare no-trade clause in his contract with the Cavs, but one would think he would waive it if it meant being shipped to the Lakers.
What both of these previously ridiculous trade rumors truly hinge upon is just how paranoid Gilbert is. Gilbert and LeBron have never had a great relationship and that relationship was “strained” last season. If that relationship is beyond the point of repair, then things could get crazy in a hurry this July.