On the first ever edition of the 4-Man Weave, its all about how the Kyrie Irving dynamic impacts the Phoenix Suns. Where will the disgruntled point guard land, if Cleveland ends up moving him at at all?
1. What package do you expect it will take to get a deal done for Kyrie? And which package would be your limit from Phoenix’s perspective?
DK: I would not include Devin Booker or Josh Jackson, but really any of the other players on the roster, as well as future draft picks, should be constructed into the best offer the Cavs get. A package of Bledsoe, Warren, Dudley and 1-2 of Chriss/Bender/Miami 2018/Suns 2018/Miami 2021 is as far as I would go, and that's pretty far.
GB: Unfortunately for Suns fans hoping to see Kyrie in the Valley, it'd probably take something like Eric Bledsoe, Jared Dudley and Josh Jackson to get Cleveland to bite (with Iman Shumpert or Channing Frye heading Phoenix's way to match salaries). That's a bit much for a franchise that was ecstatic when Jackson fell to them at No. 4 in the draft, especially since his defense is such a welcome addition for Phoenix's core moving forward. For the Suns, moving Bledsoe, Dudley, and T.J. Warren/Marquese Chriss should be the limit.
TC: As reported by others, I've heard that the general package wanted by the Cavaliers is a couple quality veterans, a young player (ideally who can contribute immediately), and one or several first round picks. It's a hefty price, one that Cleveland isn't going to get. You can't blame them for starting high, but they just don't have that sort of leverage.
I'd consider Eric Bledsoe and Josh Jackson for Irving, though I wouldn't part with much else. I certainly wouldn't go much higher than that -- at most, a first rounder that's lottery protected for several seasons -- and I'm not even certain I'd ultimately pull the trigger. Really, it depends on what Phoenix's mindset is.
ES: When a 25-year-old point guard ready to hit his prime is wanting out, expect Cleveland to try and fetch a heavy slew of prospects and veterans along with picks. The Cavs would pull off a deal if they are able to obtain a young stud prospect along with a couple win now veterans, I think.
As I outlined earlier this week, I would offer Cleveland the following: Eric Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, Tyson Chandler, and a 2018 first rounder. If that doesn't get it done, I would include Bender or Chriss instead of Warren and Chandler.
Anyway you look at it the Suns have the best package for Cleveland, but the question is if they pull it off here soon.
2. Do you see a quick resolution coming with the Cavs and Kyrie one way or another, or will this drag on closer toward training camp?
DK: I'm never good at this. I feel like since there's so much smoke out there, the Cavs will pull back for a while and maybe wait until closer to training camp hoping to get better offers. For now, the Cavs would certainly want to include Jackson, so it's a game of chicken going on.
GB: Not really. Kyrie wants out, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly acting like it's a foregone conclusion, but the Cavs don't have to move him. If they remain intact, they're still the favorites to win the East, and if there's substance to all the rumors about LeBron James leaving next summer anyway, keeping Kyrie and rebuilding around him is the smarter play for Cleveland. They won't get the rebuild package they should opt for with the knowledge that they need to win now to keep LeBron happy, they won't get a return of established talent good enough to put the Cavs on par with the Golden State Warriors, and straddling the line between those two extremes could prove to be even more difficult. Also, since recently signed free agents can't be traded until mid-December, the Cavs are limited in their current trade options anyway. I'd be surprised if this wraps up quickly.
TC: I think this will drag out for a while. Roster movement is essentially done, so it would seem like any deal that the Cavaliers have been offered would remain on the table throughout the duration of August. They may not have leverage, given the basketball world knows they must trade Irving, but they have time.
One thing that I bet happens in the coming weeks: the Cavaliers leak news that the team or LeBron James or representatives are meeting with Irving to try and calm the waters. It may not happen, and those talks might not go anywhere, but the thought of Irving reconciling with Cleveland could be enough for a potential trade partner to toss one more asset into their offer.
ES: With reports out that Kyrie and his camp are ignoring Cleveland's requests to talk, this might be settled within the next few weeks. There's no way I see Irving on the roster by training camp, and they're taking a risk if they do.
Not only does waiting hurt the return value for an Irving deal, but I imagine the team looking to acquire him wants him ASAP. I expect a resolution by mid-August, maybe earlier when most rookie contracts are free to be shipped off.
3. Do you believe an Irving/Booker backcourt could flourish or turn into a disaster with the way the roster is currently set?
DK: Sure, there's defensive issues. But I think the Irving/Booker backcourt could be better than, say Lillard/McCollum, and those guys lead the Blazers to 45+ wins each year while contending for the playoffs. So I think the Suns could win a lot of games with an Irving/Booker backcourt, just maybe not win a Finals.
GB: At its best, a Kyrie Irving and Devin Booker backcourt would be impossible to stop on offense. But given their ball-dominant natures, Booker's fledgling ability to create for others and the glaring defensive downside, there's a distinct possibility they'd never even develop the chemistry to get there. Irving has never been a great distributor, and if he's leaving Cleveland -- where he already shoots as much as he wants -- because he wants to be "the guy," that kind of individual empowerment would stunt the growth of not only Booker but Jackson, Chriss and Dragan Bender as well. The Suns are starting to add versatility and defense to this roster, so adding an offense-only player like Kyrie wouldn't make for the best fit.
TC: I would worry about the Irving/Booker back court defensively, certainly, and especially if Tyler Ulis is a backup to those two. On the other end, I think they would work fine. They both need the ball a lot, but Irving and LeBron coexisted fine last season. Given each player's plus off-ball skills, that wouldn't concern me.
ES: Personally, I'm all for it. With head coach Earl Watson running a very similar offense to what Terry Stotts puts together in Portland, I think it's a good combo.
Irving and Booker can both take their turns getting going, but if they are able to keep both Jackson and Bender, there's a lot of promising ideas with that four together in terms of ball movement. Also, as we know, the defense could be shoddy but the offensive dynamic between those two could be elite.
If Ryan McDonough and James Jones are able to convince Irving after two seasons to stay around, Booker could flourish still in a 1B type of role. Both can work on and off ball, so they should be able to coexist.
4. Would you sacrifice one of the core four for Kyrie? If so, who and why?
DK: Yes, I'd sacrifice one of Bender of Chriss, as mentioned above. The truth is that the Suns always meant to evaluate these guys and keep one of them, because we all know they play basically the same position just in different ways. Players, analysts and front offices are split on which of the two has a better chance at stardom, but they all think the Suns future doesn't have both of them in it.
GB: Only Marquese Chriss. Devin Booker is obviously off limits, but Jackson should be pretty close to that after Kristaps Porzingis trade talks never materialized on draft night. Phoenix got its guy at No. 4 and has been ecstatic about him ever since. Dragan Bender doesn't look like much to those who only watch the scoring column or the offensive end of the floor, but his defense and playmaking looked superb in Summer League and in brief flashes during his rookie season. With Alex Len's future up in the air, Bender could become the multi-positional big the Suns need to compete in a position-less league moving forward. Luckily, the Cavs probably know Booker would be off limits and might not even want Bender, leaving Jackson as the lone untouchable who would be called into question. Chriss has plenty of athleticism, bounce and upside at only 20 years old, but his defensive issues and recent (rapid) weight gain stand out as the largest concerns among Phoenix's core four.
TC: To continue an earlier point, this really depends on what is the Suns' front office mindset. Personally, I'd wait it out, keep this core, and allow your timeline for contention to stretch out several more seasons. The Western Conference is just so damn good right now, and it's hard to see anyone realistically approaching the Warriors on top for a while. If that's the mindset, then trading assets for Irving seems unnecessary.
But the counterpoints are obvious, too. Irving is still young, and maybe two seasons in Phoenix can convince him to re-sign. Irving right now might be better than Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss ever are, even five years down the road. I doubt Cleveland is interested in either of those two, but if they were, the smart basketball move says that they should take them. Jackson is more difficult to give up, and more interesting to Cleveland since it would seem that he's ready to help in some role right now. But if the Cavaliers would take him and Bledsoe and not much else, it's worth considering. If the Suns feel they're getting value back and winning a trade offer that the Cavaliers are willing to accept, then maybe the right answer is they pull the trigger and hope to figure it all out later.
The West has always been good. It looks particular daunting right now, but waiting isn't a guarantee of anything. Maybe there's external pressure (ownership, usually) being put on the front office to start winning, too, that we don't know about. If there is, making a stronger push at Irving would be understandable.
ES: Yes. Like Gerald mentioned, I would offer only Chriss out of those four if that's what it takes. If you want to make an Irving fit work, Bender and Jackson would have to stay around for defensive stability unless they are able to find a stopgap replacement.
If Irving, Booker, Jackson, and Bender are on the same roster it allows for Jackson to cover out on the perimeter while Bender can handle it inside to cover for mistakes. That's of course if both Jackson and Bender can reach their defensive ceilings, with the Suns' front office seeming adamant Jackson will make an instant impact on that end.
Phoenix has already thrown Cleveland an offer for Irving, so if Chriss or one of the core four is involved then it was definitely a much higher price than I expected.
5. Where will Kyrie land next season and why?
DK: I'd say Miami if they didn't have such a bad recent history. Goran Dragic and Justice Winslow are a good pairing in return and would help Cleveland make another Finals this year while Irving gets to lead a team with a front office bent on winning as often as possible but knowing they need to reset their core of star players.
But since the planet would explode before Miami and Cleveland do that deal, I'd say maybe the Wolves for Wiggins, etc. is the likely destination. The Suns just don't want to include a Jackson-type, and Bledsoe isn't enough to headline a Suns deal it seems.
GB: The Suns, Nuggets and Bucks all seem like realistic outcomes, and even the Knicks could be an option if the Suns get involved as a third team willing to take on Frank Ntilikina and future picks (which is really the only way PHX should get involved with a Kyrie Irving trade). But more than likely, it'll be the more boring, most uncomfortable outcome: Cleveland's new GM avoids making a panic move, holds onto Kyrie and grants the world the most awkward media day in recent memory. At least we all have that to look forward to.
TC: Denver. I can envision him five or six different teams making a deal for him, but the one I keep coming back to is the Nuggets. They're bottom of the league in attendance and ready to win now. They've had a lot of good players, but until Jokic's emergence, were struggling to turn them into great players. If they can stomach the loss of Gary Harris (whose inclusion the Cavaliers will demand), then I think the trade makes sense for them on multiple levels.
ES: Phoenix. I keep coming back to the Suns for a destination, with all of the dynamics previously mentioned. The Suns can offer Cleveland win-now pieces (Bledsoe, Chandler, Dudley) and young assets, while other teams have some sort of negotiating hurdle they have to overcome.
If the Suns obtain Irving, it will be an interesting two year sales pitch on a future in The Valley, that's for sure. With either Paul Millsap or Blake Griffin already on board via free agency, it might have been an easier sell for him. However, with the youth movement already in place, this would be an ideal spot for long-term sustainability.
Either a Phoenix trade or an awkward season in Cleveland alongside LeBron James seem like the best odds to happen at the moment for Irving.
Where will Kyrie Irving land?
This poll is closed