Winning championships isn’t high on Kyrie Irving’s list of priorities. Otherwise, why would he be demanding a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The Cavs, of course, feature LeBron James as their centerpiece. One of the best basketball players of all-time, James has been to the NBA Finals seven straight seasons, winning three of them (twice with the Miami Heat, once in Cleveland). Unless he’s Golden State-bound (he’s not), Irving won’t land with a team with a better chance of winning a title than the one he’s already on.
It’s been a terrible and tumultuous month for the Cavaliers since they lasted just five games against the Warriors in the 2017 Finals. They shockingly sent GM David Griffin packing, have been unable to make substantial improvements to their roster – missing out on both Paul George and Jimmy Butler – and now this: their star point guard, the No. 2 guy on their roster wants out.
According to a report on ESPN.com – which some believe was leaked by LeBron’s camp – Irving told Cavs owner Dan Gilbert on July 7 (while James was vacationing in Mexico) that he no longer want to be second fiddle. He wants to lead his own team and does not want to defer to King James. He listed the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks and Heat as his preferences. Of these, the Spurs are the only team one could argue has a better chance than Cleveland at winning a title.
Again, those are his preferences. It doesn’t mean he’ll end up at one of those spots. In fact, he may not go anywhere at all.
Another side of this is that James can bolt in a year. If he doesn’t see the Cavs improve to the point by next June where they have a reasonable chance to dethrone the Warriors, he’ll likely opt out of his deal.
So it’s possible Irving’s trade demand is his effort to get in front of James’ departure and avoid being left holding the bag heading into the 2018-19 season.
Sometimes these situations work themselves out. Perhaps Irving will come to his senses and change his mind. But somebody better make sure he understands that he can’t win a championship on his own.