The NBA offseason is beginning to wind down as most teams have filled out their rosters. However, just when things were beginning to get quiet the NBA world was shocked when word came down that Kyrie Irving had requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The news was completely unexpected as Irving and the Cavaliers had made three straight NBA Finals, winning one championship, and were widely viewed as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference again. Nonetheless, Irving reportedly would prefer to land with one of four teams: San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat, or New York Knicks.
While it was originally believed that Irving’s top landing spot was the Spurs, ESPN’s Pablo Torre says that Irving would actually prefer to go home to New York (transcription via Pro Basketball Talk):
“I got a phone call, and the voice on the other end of that phone call is a trustworthy person. And he was saying to me that Kyrie Irving very badly wants to be a New York Knick. Kyrie Irving wants to come home.”
Players wanting to play for their hometown team is nothing new. In fact, the Los Angeles Lakers are holding out hope on that belief leading Paul George to choose the purple and gold next summer.
A deal to the Knicks would likely have to center around Carmelo Anthony, who would have to waive his no-trade clause for it. Irving and Kristaps Porzingis would give the Knicks a great core to build around. Unfortunately for Irving he has no leverage to choose where he wants to go.
Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause so the Cavaliers can send him to whoever gives them the best return. One team who has been mentioned multiple times is the Phoenix Suns. LeBron James is very familiar with Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, who is represented by James’ agency Klutch Sports, and the two workout together every summer.
It remains to be seen where Irving will land, but a trade anywhere will alter the NBA landscape.