I’m still of the mindset that Kyrie Irving won’t be traded. He has no leverage, as he’s until contract for another two years, and Cleveland will more than likely be in the Finals the next two years. And who knows? They might even win one.
But just because Kyrie probably won’t be traded this offseason doesn’t mean we can’t speculate what would happen if he was. His four desired locations are San Antonio, Minnesota, New York (!!!) and Miami. We’ll start with San Antonio.
San Antonio Spurs
This baffled me. Most players would love to play for the Spurs, I just didn’t think Kyrie was one of them. For one, if he wants out of Cleveland because he’s “tired of being in LeBron’s shadow”, then why San Antonio, of all places? Kawhi Leonard is a consensus top-5 player in the NBA, and will be the main cog of the offense, and with good reason.
Second of all, Spurs basketball does not suit Kyrie Irving. The most important principle that Gregg Popovich instills in his players is that nobody holds the ball for too long. NOBODY. For as good as Kyrie is, he holds the ball for extended periods, and dribbles way too much for the liking of coach Pop.
Cleveland is the only contending team that runs an offense predicated on iso-ball, Kyrie’s style. So it baffles me why he’d want to leave… But if he really wants to be the main guy, San Antonio isn’t the place.
Statline Prediction: 16.8 PPG/6.2 APG/2.2 RPG/45% FG
Team Success: 2nd seed, lose in the Western Conference Finals
Minnesota isn’t the place if he wants to be the main guy, either. In their starting lineup, they have three potential high volume scorers in Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. They also just got a new point guard in Jeff Teague.
More than anything, though, under coach Tim Thibodeau, the Timberwolves are expected to defend, and defend well. Their move to acquire lockdown defender Jimmy Butler only reinforces that. But defending isn’t something in Kyrie’s arsenal. In fact, he’s one of the worst defenders in the league at the point guard position.
Having to share share the ball with three other scorers and defend? Oh, the horror! Minnesota’s not the one, either.
Statline Prediction: 18.8 PPG/5.1 APG/2.4 RPG/44% FG
Team Success: 4th seed, lose in the second round
New York Knicks
If he wants to be the man, then I guess New York is a possible destination. Along with being a team in need of a star player, they’re a tremendous national market. But they’re also the worst-run franchise in sports, with one of the worst rosters in the NBA. If Kyrie still wants to become a Knick, well then God help him.
Statline Prediction: 27.2 PPG/6.8 APG/4.2 RPG/41% FG
Team Success: Still lose every game
Miami is probably the most appealing for Kyrie. Apart from being a huge market, they’re in search of a post-LeBron superstar, and have mastermind executive Pat Riley to build a team around that superstar.
They won’t be contenders, and they probably have nothing to trade Cleveland, but if Kyrie wants a team for himself, then the Miami Heat are the one.
Statline Prediction: 26.3 PPG/6.2 APG/3.8 RPG/43% FG
Team Success: 6th seed, lose in first round
P.S., even the most optimistic predictions look awfully similar to his 2016-17′ stat-line with Cleveland, where he averaged over 25 points.