There have been some rumblings around the status of Kyrie Irving that have Boston Celtics fans worried. His decision to put contract extensions on hold makes perfect sense when you look at the figures involved, as Irving outlined himself to the media while promoting his upcoming film Uncle Drew.
Some see his decision not to sign with the Celtics for the long haul as one that indicates a move out of Boston. The figures are plain and clear; if he were to re-sign now he’d be leaving a possible $80 million on the table compared to if he signs an extension following the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.
There is still a sliver of a chance another team may claim the services of the All-Star point guard, especially with the emergence of Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. Let’s take a look at what each of the 29 other teams can offer Boston in a trade, ordered from worst to best.
Trade Assets: George Hill, Larry Nance Jr, 2018 first-round pick Collin Sexton
Additional Asset from Celtics: Aron Baynes
With LeBron gone, it’s funny to imagine Irving on the team who drafted him.
With Irving and Love, Cleveland would be a good enough team to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but there’s just no way he’s going back.
The Cavs could offer a serviceable package centering around Sexton and some other pieces, but don’t hold your breath Cleveland fans. There’s a higher likelihood of the Cavaliers winning another championship without LeBron (currently 5oo-to-1) than Kyrie going back to Cleveland.
28. Houston Rockets
Trade Assets: Eric Gordon, Nene Hilario, 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick
Possibility: Extremely Unlikely
How many teams in the history of the game have had three All-Star point guards at the same time? The closest thing to come to it was this trio, and we all know what happened there.
Houston’s chest of assets is ridiculously bare in large part thanks to Ryan Anderson’s lofty contract. They hold the rights to their own first-round picks, but a selection in the mid to late-20s isn’t going to swing the needle when it comes to trade negotiations, especially when it comes to a player of Kyrie Irving’s ilk.
27. New Orleans Pelicans
Trade Assets: Solomon Hill, E'Twaun Moore, 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick
A backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving would send shivers down the spines of 29 other teams. Having one of the best two-way guards combined with the sublime offensive skill-set of Irving is tantalising even just thinking about it.
Like the Rockets, though, New Orleans is bereft of what they could offer Boston. Their picks might be slightly better than Houston’s, but Solomon Hill and E'Twaun Moore aren’t moving the needle in any sort of trade package.
26. Dallas Mavericks
Trade Assets: Wesley Matthews, 2018 first-round pick Luka Doncic
Dallas have some intriguing pieces on their roster they could offer Boston. Like many other teams following the original trade of Irving from Cleveland, the Mavericks were a dark horse in the Kyrie sweepstakes. But now, partnering him with another offensively-minded point guard in Dennis Smith Jr. makes no sense at all.
Dallas possibly including Doncic makes things somewhat intriguing, though their eyes seem to be more keen on one of Kyrie’s teammates.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
Trade Assets: Marc Gasol, 2018 second-round pick Jevon Carter, 2019 second-round pick
It’s unlikely Memphis would be willing to include fourth overall pick Jaren Jackson in a package for Kyrie Irving. Rumors making the rounds are they’re trying to move Chandler Parsons' contract in a deal that includes the pick used on Jackson.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, continue to receive significant trade interest in the No. 4 pick in scenarios where they would also send out Chandler Parsons. The Grizz are said to be taking more calls than they're making, but staying in the high lottery is obviously crucial to Memphis https://t.co/Z3dPjwvs7A
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 18, 2018
Mike Conley is on one of the biggest contracts in the league, so a deal including his salary is unlikely hence the inclusion of his All-Star teammate, Marc Gasol. The Celtics were said to have interest in Gasol around the same time last year. The center had an underwhelming season by his standards, and with age not on his side, it’s highly doubtful they’re in the running for Irving.
24. Washington Wizards
Trade Assets: Bradley Beal
Additional Asset from Celtics: Marcus Morris
The argument of who was the better point guard is between John Wall and Kyrie Irving quieted dramatically this season.
If the Wizards wanted to switch tack and somehow get the Boston star with Wall’s huge contract kicking in next year, there’s no way they’d be able to include him in a deal. Instead, they’d have to trade the guy who stepped up in Wall’s absence for much of the season, Bradley Beal.
To make the salary work Washington would also need to take on Marcus Morris, reuniting the twins once more. That alone is worth picking up the phone to call Danny Ainge.
23. Atlanta Hawks
Trade Assets: Kent Bazemore, 2018 first-round pick Trae Young
Additional Asset from Celtics: two future second-round picks
If the Hawks want to go for the sure thing, they might as well swing big. A package that brings them Irving, one of the premier point guards in the league, plus two second-rounders may be enough to entice them to make this trade happen. Irving gives the Hawks the star power they’ve been lacking the past few years and puts fans in their seats.
Like Dallas, they were ever so mildly in the running for Kyrie’s services originally in 2017, and this time around with Young at their disposal, they may have a greater package to offer. Kent Bazemore is a veteran shooting guard who could develop into something special under the Celtics.
22. Charlotte Hornets
Trade Assets: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb
Kemba Walker is an All-Star on a very reasonable contract. Remind you of anyone? Walker’s contract is even more favorable than that of Uncle Drew’s.
If the Celtics were to trade Kyrie for Kemba, they’d be getting the closest like-for-like imaginable. Walker doesn’t have the offensive creativity that Irving has, but his production shouldn’t be understated.
Add in a decent young backup guard in Jeremy Lamb and you’ve got a reasonable package if you’re Charlotte. It still pales in comparison to the quality of Kyrie Irving, so they might need to chuck in a draft pick to level it out, but even then, it's likely not nearly enough.
21. Orlando Magic
Trade Assets: Nikola Vučević, Jonathan Isaac
The Magic have been searching for a superstar ever since the departure of Shaq (with apologies to Dwight Howard). Aaron Gordon may still blossom into that, but if you get Kyrie, you automatically fill that void.
Orlando would have to give up their best center and best young prospect to make a deal but it’s a no brainer, if you even have a minute's chance in landing his services. There are better packages out there and Orlando just doesn’t have the allure of so many of the other teams on this list.
20. Sacramento Kings
Trade Assets: Kosta Koufos, De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanović
Ever since Kawhi Leonard made it be known he wants out of San Antonio, there were a plethora of teams clarmoring for his services. Sacramento was one of them.
Another team to watch in the Kawhi sweepstakes: Sacramento. Kings have talked to teams about the No. 2 pick, per sources, and desperately want an established star.
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) June 15, 2018
Like some of the aforementioned teams, the Kings were part of the stable vying for him with an original offer of rookie De'Aaron Fox and Kosta Koufos, or similar contracts to match the salary. With a great season behind him, you can add Bogdan Bogdanović into a deal and be pretty confident with what you’re putting on the table.
There’s a higher likelihood that the Kings land Kawhi than the former Duke point guard, but don’t count on either.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder
Trade Assets: Dennis Schroder, Alex Abrines, 2019 first-round pick
The NBA could not handle backcourt of Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, but Westbrook wouldn’t share the limelight with Kyrie well. Defensively, they’d be a pretty horrible combination despite some improvement on that end of the floor from the two throughout the season.
Dennis Schroder could become the second-coming of Isaiah Thomas and Alex Abrines will be a good backup shooting guard. But that first-round pick next year would be the core of the package.
Trade Assets: Klay Thompson
Kyrie joining the Warriors would take the Dubs hate to a new stratosphere. Klay Thompson would form the crux of a deal with the 2017-18 NBA champions, as he was even rumored to be part of a deal in the original 2017 trade when Kyrie left Cleveland.
If you’re the Warriors, it doesn’t make any sense to get rid of the perfect complimentary superstar in Klay Thompson for a player who would somehow have to share ball handling duties with the greatest shooting point guard of all time.
17. Utah Jazz
Trade Assets: Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, 2018 first-round pick Grayson Allen
The Jazz lowkey have some decent assets and a solid roster composition thanks to the coaching of Quinn Snyder and the front office headed by Dennis Lindsey.
Fit wise ,it makes a lot of sense; with a young core of Gobert, Mitchell, and Irving, they'd have the potential to challenge for championships for years to come.
Utah would have to give up fan favourite Ricky Rubio, Allen, and Thabo Sefolosha to match the salary. If it meant getting a bonafide superstar on and off the court, you can put your money on Lindsey making the move to improve his team, and then some.
16. Portland Trail Blazers
Trade Assets: Damian Lillard
Additional Asset from Celtics: Marcus Morris
Bill Simmons proposed a Kyrie for Dame trade on his podcast last year, and the deal makes some sense.
The only thing is it doesn’t necessarily move the needle a whole heap for either team. Kyrie would still have a winning situation in Portland, and the same would go for Lillard. Lillard may finally get the kudos he deserves playing for one of the league’s powerhouses in Boston as well.
Like so many of these proposed trades, the likelihood of occurring isn’t very high.
15. Indiana Pacers
Trade Assets: Darren Collison, Cory Joseph and Bojan Bogdanovic
Indiana would be a great fit for Kyrie Irving, but the only problem is the Pacers aren’t a free agent destination.
Conversely, they could offer a solid package with Darren Collison, Cory Joseph and Bojan Bogdanovic. Boston would be a perfect landing spot for these three, as they are the type of players that are representative of Celtic Pride.
Oladipo and Irving would be a menacing backcourt for the foreseeable future and would strike fear into the East and West alike. Again, don't count on this going down, but it’s nice to dream Pacer fans.
14. Detroit Pistons
Trade Assets: Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, 2019 first-round pick
A star trio of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Kyrie Irving would excite the hell out of Pistons fans and give the Detroit franchise a real shot in the arm. Don't put it past newly installed Coach Casey to get that team to a top-3 seed.
The unfortunate reality is Boston won't take on Reggie Jackson in any deal, even with the potential upside of a former first- round pick in Luke Kennard as well as an additional first rounder.
13. Brooklyn Nets
Trade Assets: D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, 2019 first-round pick
Rumors are floating around state that Kyrie has a strong desire to play for New York. You could argue Brooklyn is the better franchise in the city to play for at this point in time.
Boston and Brooklyn have a famed past trading with each other, and this would be another notch in that history.
Russell is ‘Kyrie-lite’ and DeMarre Carroll is a swingman who can guard multiple positions. If they add in yet another first-round selection, that's a solid package to entice Irving and the Celtics.
12. Chicago Bulls
Trade Assets: Robin Lopez, Kris Dunn, 2018 first-round pick Wendell Carter Jr.
Kyrie had a desire to play with Chicago in 2017 back when Jimmy Butler was still on the roster. The Bulls dismissed Irving’s request, instead trading their former franchise superstar.
Would Chicago entertain the idea of getting Uncle Drew on their roster yet again? With a deal centered around their number seven pick in Carter and Kris Dunn, the Bulls could put an attractive offer on the table.
11. Toronto Raptors
Trade Assets: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, 2019 first-round pick
Additional Assets from Celtics: Marcus Morris & Aron Baynes
Unlike the Bulls, Toronto has been one of the more successful teams out East (at least in the regular season). A new, offensive-minded coach in Nick Nurse would allow Kyrie to thrive in Toronto.
The Raptors would have to give up Kyle Lowry, who they’ve previously included in trade talks.
According to one league source, no one on Toronto's roster is off limits as the Raptors pursue a top-10 pick https://t.co/AZzCv8fPXD
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 18, 2018
It’s a tough sell getting rid of Pascal Siakam as well. He’s a freak athlete with tremendous upside on both ends of the floor.
Adding Kyrie to this roster may give them the boost they need to finally achieve some playoff success.
10. Denver Nuggets
Trade Assets: Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, 2018 first-round pick Michael Porter Jr.
Irving was heavily linked to the Denver Nuggets in 2017. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris have shown plenty over their few years in the league, yet not enough for Denver to be absolutely set on the duo being the core backcourt for the future. Michael Porter Jr. would seal the deal for the Celtics to at least take a look at this deal.
Nikola Jokic may be the team’s franchise cornerstone, but if they add someone of Kyrie’s talents, their ceiling becomes exponentially higher, especially for a team looking to get back into the playoff picture.
9. Los Angeles Lakers
Trade Assets: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Luol Deng
Additional Assets from Celtics: Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye
The possibility of targeting Kyrie Irving in free agency if the Lakers struck out on LeBron was brought up on the Locked On Lakers podcast. Of course, that didn't happen.
Who knows if Lonzo ever becomes an All-Star, and in Irving you have a bonafide superstar with youth still on his side. Lonzo has plenty of tools to become a great player, but he is still an unknown commodity. His jump shot will continue to remain a question mark, which is one of Kyrie’s many elite talents.
8. Phoenix Suns
Trade Assets: Tyson Chandler, Dragan Bender, 2018 first-round pick Mikal Bridges, 2018 second-round pick Elie Okobo, their 2019 first-round pick or the Bucks' (protected top 3 and #17-30)
Alongside Kyrie’s current squad, Phoenix is a team with a plethora of assets. They have great picks and decent salary filler to make a deal with Boston.
There was actually a time where Kyrie thought he would be suiting up for the Suns and had to seek out the advice of mentor, Kobe Bryant. If Boston decides it wants to refill it’s cupboard with even more first-round picks, Irving may have to make the call to the Black Mamba yet again.
7. Philadelphia 76ers
Trade Assets: Robert Covington, Markelle Fultz
Additional Asset from Celtics: Marcus Morris
If the Sixers decide that Fultz is a lost cause, they may want to contact Danny Ainge. Philly may have the tools to make a trade, but it seems implausible that Ainge and the Celtics would entertain a deal with a team that’s set to be one of their key rivals for the next half decade or longer, especially with LeBron out of the East.
6. Milwaukee Bucks
Trade Assets: Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton
This trade centers around the same one Milwaukee was said to have reportedly offered Cleveland in 2017. While Brogdon’s stock has fallen due to an injury ravaged season, Khris Middleton has only risen. He may be one of the league’s most underappreciated players and one of best non-All-Stars.
The Bucks may have to sweeten the deal with a pick of some sort, but it’d be worth it if you’re combining the ridiculous talents of Giannis and Kyrie. There are rumblings that the Greek Freak doesn’t mesh well with some of his current teammates.
Per Chris Sheridan: "I expect the Bucks to move Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker, because Giannis Antetokounmpo does not enjoy playing alongside those two." https://t.co/Q4YiPCJGuk
— Paul Henning (@brewcitypaul) June 18, 2018
Trade Assets: Tobias Harris, 2018 first-round pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Jerome Robinson
Back before the Cavs traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics, it was rumored that he preferred a trade to the Clippers. With Harris and one of LA's first round picks from this past draft, it could happen.
4. Miami Heat
Trade Assets: Goran Dragic, Justice Winslow
Miami was one of the team’s Irving had on his wishlist last summer, but they don't have a heap of assets to package to the Celtics.
They’ll have to count on Danny Ainge’s irrational love for Justice Winslow and an aging All-Star in Goran Dragic to secure his services. Miami is famed for their culture and it’d be great to see the best version of Kyrie thrive there. But, like other Eastern Conference teams, it’s tough envisioning Ainge trading their franchise star to a direct rival.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Trade Assets: Jeff Teague, 2018 first-round pick Josh Okogie, 2019 first-round pick
Possibility: Very High
Minnesota was another franchise on Kyrie's list that he wanted to be traded to, and now that his buddy Jimmy Butler is there, there’s no reason why the Timberwolves still be.
They may not be able to offer a package as good as some of the teams on this list, but the fact that Minnesota is in the opposing conference is a factor in their favor.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Kyrie Irving elevates Minnesota to a possible top-four seed in a stacked Western Conference. It’d be amazing to see Irving on a Coach Thibodeau-led team for more reasons than one.
2. New York Knicks
Trade Assets: Enes Kanter, Frank Ntilikina, 2018 first-round pick Kevin Knox
Possibility: Very High
The Knicks are one of the two most likely teams to land Irving if he becomes available.
He spent time in New york through high school and has flat out said he wants to play for the Knicks.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Trade Assets: DeJounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge, two future 1st-round picks
Possibility: Very High
The Spurs will need to throw in a future first-rounder and both teams would need to get assurances from each player about their health and long-term futures but this trade is one of the best that both teams can get for their key players. The Celtics will have a player who can play the center position while Al Horford slides to power forward, giving them two bigs that can shoot from the perimeter.
DeJounte Murray is an excellent young player who can play both guard positions and someone who could have a career-year in Boston.
It’s the deal that makes the most sense for all involved. However, Kyrie appears to be committed to the Celtics, as he indicated to Bill Simmons on a recent podcast.