OVER a month has passed since Kyrie Irving told the Cavaliers that he wanted out of Cleveland. While the request itself caused hysteria, the front office incompetence from the Cavs seemingly led to the 4x All-Star asking for a departure. Since then over half the league has approached them to inquire about a trade for Irving, with the Phoenix Suns emerging as a potential destination thanks to the assets they have at their disposal. The biggest asset holding up talks from progressing is the No. 4 pick in last years draft Josh Jackson. The Cavs have demanded he be included in any trade discussions and the Suns have so far refused to do so. Weighing up the pros and cons for both dealing Jackson and gaining Irving seems like a logical way to break down the debate.
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Pros For Trading Jackson
WHILE the potential for Jackson to develop into a versatile wing player in the modern NBA is there his Achilles heel is quite glaring and detrimental. With a woeful jump shot, many teams above Phoenix were scared off from drafting the Kansas product in June and he didn’t exactly excel in Summer League to shrug the label as a crappy shooter. Jackson was named to the All-Summer League first team for averaging 17.4 PPG and 9.2 RPG but he shot just 42.5% in those five Summer League games. If he can’t continue to improve as a jump shooter he will offer little value in the current NBA and that would certainly handicap the level of success Phoenix can achieve.
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Pros For Acquiring Irving
DEALING Jackson to Cleveland for Kyrie would give them perhaps the best scoring guard in the league, instantly forming a lethal backcourt duo with Devin Booker. In fact, it may give them the two best young scoring players at two positions, something that would definitely see the Suns improve on their 24 wins a season ago. There is no doubt as well that having Irving in Phoenix would tempt other players to come to the desert and thrive alongside the young backcourt. The likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap and Blake Griffin have been linked to the Suns over the past few agency periods, but ultimately Phoenix didn’t have enough to offer for them to join the team. Having Irving on their roster for at least the next 24 months and potentially allow them to land another big fish to further rise up the West standings.
Cons Of Trading Jackson
PLENTY of current superstars in the NBA didn’t possess a reliable jumpshot upon their arrival into the big time only to become reliable deep threats. Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are two that instantly jump to mind and if Jackson could even be mentioned in the same breath as those two the Suns would be laughing all the way to deep playoff runs. Even if Jackson didn’t develop a jumper like the two aforementioned All Stars, his athletic prowess and wing defense could see him become a lockdown defender. With Devin Booker at the 2, there isn’t a dramatic need to find another scoring option, easing the pressure on Jackson to immediately fill up the box score. Losing him would rob them of that versatile defender with little other help outside of T.J. Warren at the position.
Cons Of Acquiring Irving
IF they were to flip Jackson for Irving are we even sure that the Suns would be making the right move? Sure the Cavs point guard is a superstar that any team would likely give their left arm for, but his shortcomings on defense don’t exactly suit the team’s current makeup. Phoenix could find themselves stuck with a pair of guards unable to defend the likes of Curry, Westbrook, Harden, Lillard and more in the loaded Western Conference and find themselves worse off than they currently are. And if they were to trade for Kyrie, there’s no reason he wouldn’t consider departing at the end of his contract in 2019-2020, leaving Phoenix staring down the barrel of another potential rebuild.
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So…Should They Do It?
UNFORTUNATELY for the Cavaliers, their dire position means that they have little say in the negotiations and may be forced to accept a lower offer from Phoenix. That being said there is no rush to trade Irving and another team could trump the Suns offer leaving them stuck with their current roster. That isn’t a terrible thing though with a Kyrie Irving trade likely seeing the Suns mirror a version of the current Blazers (two All-Star calibre guards with little rim protection). While the league is taking a smaller, higher scoring approach the potential defensive nightmare that could be formed in their backcourt should they swing a deal for Irving isn’t ideal for success in the formidable Western Conference.
JACKSON may not develop into a superstar two-way player and his jump shot may stay awful, but his other skills and talents complement Booker and the other players on the roster better than Irving’s higher ceiling does. Jackson reminds me of another Kansas alum in Andrew Wiggins, who has showcased in his first three seasons that draft analysis doesn’t always tell us the whole story of a players game.
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