Exploring how Kyrie can land with the L.A. Clippers

LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA twitter were all blindsided by reports that Kyrie Irving demanded a trade late last week. Irving's dissatisfaction with his current team and co-superstar had everyone screaming as if it were the Kobe and Shaq breakup 2.0.

Nonetheless, there's never an ideal time to trade a franchise point guard like Kyrie. The ideal timing certainly isn't after completion of the NBA Draft and first wave of free agency. Teams around the NBA have already committed to their point guards of the future through the draft, free agency signings and development of incumbent starters. This leaves Cleveland scrambling to find a trade partner that gives them equal long term and short term value for Irving. Alternatively, they could wait until the season begins for an Irving trade as they try to mend the relationship between Kyrie and LeBron.

Insert the Los Angeles Clippers as a team that should trade for Kyrie. If the Clippers aren't already trying to move mountains for Irving, they should be. Los Angeles should do everything in its power to team Irving with Blake Griffin. L.A. should leverage every player on their roster, outside of Griffin, to get Kyrie. Even if they have to wait until mid season, the Clippers make a lot of sense for Irving.

Remember, the Clippers sent the first round draft pick that ultimately became Kyrie Irving thanks to the NBA Draft lottery. In 2011, the Clippers sent the pick and Baron Davis for a deal centered around Mo Williams‘ expiring contract as they were desperate for cap relief. Uniting Irving with Griffin would make up for this catastrophic deadline mistake. It is the way to put Irving with the star, franchise and city he should've been drafted to.

Why the Clippers should trade for Kyrie

Obviously, the Clippers need a superstar point guard after trading Chris Paul to the Rockets this offseason. A Kyrie trade would give Los Angeles another superstar guard in his prime to replace Paul. Kyrie gets to be the star of L.A. like Paul was during his tenure with the Clippers. Irving could make up any dollars missed by not signing a max deal in Cleveland with endorsement money in Los Angeles. The Clippers would also make good on the previous regime's error. Additionally, Irving doesn't want to go to the East Coast anyways, per reports.

Beyond that, Irving's catch and shoot skills, uptempo pace and unique handles would thrive alongside Griffin with the Clippers. Griffin's playmaking ability from the forward position is reminiscent of James so Irving should adapt to Griffin's play style quickly. Both players could continue thriving in the open floor.

Moreover, this is Doc Rivers‘ opportunity to make good on pushing Chris Paul out of town. After Paul's departure, rumors surfaced that River's commitment to his son Austin Rivers created a rift between the coach/president of the team and Paul. This is Doc's chance to prove that his unwillingness to deal Austin for Carmelo Anthony wasn't the reason Paul left town. Doc can trade his son for a player that will make the Clippers contenders in the West again. It will prove that Doc the executive can make a move to help Doc the coach.

Additionally, Rivers left the Boston Celtics when a rebuild became apparent. Adding Kyrie to the Clippers prevents Los Angeles from rebuilding for the duration of Griffin's newly signed five-year, $172 million deal. It's not very often that a 25-year-old superstar hits the trade block so the Clippers better do what they can to pair Irving with Griffin as soon as possible.

Why the Cavaliers should move Irving to the Clippers

With Derrick Rose signed to a minimum deal, the Cavaliers already have a more than capable replacement for Kyrie on the roster. Rose brings similar scoring and mismatch opportunity for the Cavs. Oh, and he won the MVP in 2011.

Thus, the Cavaliers don't need an All-star guard back in return for Irving. Instead, they can improve by adding scoring on the wings as well as defense through out the roster. Remember, the Cavaliers had a historically bad defense which led to their ultimate demise in the NBA Finals.


Insert the Clippers. They can offer an athletic big man with great hands and shot blocking ability. Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan could cover up the defensive inefficiencies of Kevin Love and Rose. Adding a shot blocking center like Jordan could also allow James to shift his focus from defending the basket. Jordan could release James from some of his free safety duties for the Cavs. The 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist is a notoriously bad free throw shooter and his offensive game is limited but he is a great teammate who impacts both sides of the floor. Not to mention, Jordan has an option for 2018 which makes him an expiring contract.

Speaking of cap relief. The Clippers can also offer Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley as rotational veterans on cap-friendly deals. Williams is a free agent after this season and Beverley's 2018 salary is non-guaranteed. Williams and Beverley could be used as leverage to get the Cavaliers out of the long-term dollars committed to Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson and/or J.R. Smith. The Clippers would gladly take any combination of those veterans and Kyrie Irving. Wesley Johnson is another veteran that the Clippers could add. His versatile defense and length could help the Cavs in another bout against the super athletic and lengthy Warriors.

Adding Beverly, Williams and Johnson gives the Cavaliers experienced role players so they can compete with the Warriors through four quarters over seven games. Getting Jordan also improves the entire Cavaliers defense.

Don't forget, Lebron left Miami because he saw a great team like the Spurs beat his star powered Heat. A trade with the Clippers can make Cleveland's team stronger even if it doesn't offer the same star power as other rumored deals. It also gives the organization more cap flexibility whether LeBron stays or goes in 2018 Free Agency.

Further, the Cavaliers keep Kyrie from going to an Eastern Conference foe like the Knicks and Celtics. This way Cleveland only has to see their star a few times a year or in the NBA Finals. That's better than Kyrie reminding Cleveland what could've been every year during the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

How the trade Clippers-Cavaliers deal gets done

In the end, the Cavaliers will command some first round picks and young talent for their 25-year-old. Unfortunately, the Clippers don't have much of either. This is where the Cavaliers and Clippers deal probably dies.

Unless Los Angeles could sell Cleveland on the future of Austin Rivers and Brice Butler. Rivers has gotten better each year of his NBA career and there is no telling what playing with LeBron would do for his career. Rivers is also under contract for the next few seasons which could make him the answer at point guard if Rose doesn't return next season.

Otherwise, Johnson only played in three games last year but he was a good college player with solid athleticism. Sam Dekker could earn himself some trade value if the 23-year-old plays well in Los Angeles. At the very lease, Johnson, Dekker and Rivers could get the Clippers or Cavs some draft picks from a third team in the deal.

Of course, inserting another team into a three-way deal only makes trade negotiations more difficult. Bleacher Report recently advocated a three-way deal where Melo ends up in Cleveland and the Clippers get Kyrie.

However, Beverley and Williams can't be traded for a few months since they were just acquired from Houston. A blockbuster trade between the Clippers and Cavaliers is difficult enough and it is even more challenging in the middle of the season.

Hence, the Clippers acquiring Irving seems unlikely. Then again, Cleveland trading their All-Star point guard at age 25 seems questionable anyways.

L.A. makes too much sense for Cleveland to not explore a Kyrie trade

Considering we've already seen All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Chris Paul were traded in the past year, nothing is out of the question. This is especially true considering all of those guys got moved for less than expected.

Los Angeles should use this precedent to strike on a Kyrie-deal before another team jumps at the opportunity. Irving going to the Clippers is unlikely but it is not illogical.

Any combination of Jordan, Rivers, Butler, Johnson, Williams, Dekker and Beverly for Irving and the bloated contracts of Shumpert, Thompson or Smith gives the Cavs cap relief and immediate defensive help to beat the Warriors. Meanwhile, the Clippers get their star guard to replace Paul.

A trade to Los Angeles makes more sense than some of the other rumored destinations including the Knicks, Timberwolves, Spurs and Heat. Other teams have entered the Kyrie sweepstakes via rumors too so the Clippers need to make a run at Irving. Even if another NBA team offers more young star power or potential, the Clippers can offer Cleveland future cap relief and an immediately deeper defense to help LeBron versus Golden State. Once the timing is right, a Cavaliers and Clippers trade makes too much sense for all parties to not at least consider it as an option.