WE have well and truly reached crazy season. With rumour mills churning into overdrive Kyrie Irving’s future in Boston has now somehow come under question. We know that Danny Ainge has a trigger finger and the uber-talented All-Star in Irving hasn’t had the finest stretch of health either. But trading Irving? Surely not, right?
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NOW that the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes have begun, teams will be eagerly throwing their hat into the ring with their best package. Even though reports acknowledged the fact that the Lakers were Leonard’s preferred destination, don’t think for a minute that teams like the Celtics won’t try and pry the two-way superstar away from their competitors.
AS tempting as the urge is Boston might be best suited to sit this one out. Their current trajectory should see them be a real contender if they are at full health. I can’t see many of their East foes catching them in the offseason either, meaning standing pat would be smart. Besides, Kawhi’s future isn’t guaranteed either. He only has one year left on his contract similar to Kyrie and could very well depart at the end of next year for nothing.
MAYBE these injury issues surrounding Leonard should be raising more eyebrows too. As I was writing this piece I discovered a crazy nugget about Kawhi. If I asked you who had played more career games out of him or Anthony Davis, keeping in mind Leonard entered the league a year before AD, who would choose? Davis wins the count by three matches (410-407). Now it is worth pointing out that Leonard’s playoff games (87) compared to Davis’ (13) are not even close, but considering we have a perception that Davis is an injury prone guy, it’s funny to see that he’s played more than this ‘must-have’ Spurs star.
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WHEN he’s one the court though Leonard is a cyborg and at just 26 he could still be growing. Woah. Your future is extremely bright, but if you’re Danny Ainge this could be a championship changing move. It would be hard to part with Irving and a straight swap for him and Leonard makes sense financially and from a talent perspective. But I have other ideas.
PICKS are worth their weight in gold in today’s NBA and the mastermind Celtics GM has a plethora of them at his disposal, allowing him to hold a lot of the cards in trade negotiations. Getting Leonard for Kyrie would be awesome, but he then faces a severe logjam at forward with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and the returning Gordon Hayward all demanding minutes. Three of them is a good fit, but four can’t work so Ainge would be wise to offload one. If he sent Brown to the Spurs as part of this deal, he could demand Patty Mills in return, addressing their back up guard needs and ask for a first rounder as well.
Celtics get: Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, 2018 1st round pick (No. 25)
Spurs get: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown
CHOOSING this year first rounder or next years doesn’t really matter. Although there would be an opportunity for Boston to then move up in Thursday’s Draft if they had two late first rounders for this class. The trade automatically revolutionises the Spurs core and sets them up for an interesting future. All of sudden are they a LeBron destination?
KYRIE Irving gets his true wish of running his own team and Popovich could help him unlock his talents en route to averaging 30+ for an entire season ala Allen Iverson. Brown would be the perfect running mate for Irving and could develop into a premier two-way wing. This is probably about as good as it’s going to get from a San Antonio perspective and this deal easily trumps what the Lakers would offer.
HOWEVER, this is a lot for the Celtics to give up in potential negotiations. They want to get Kawhi but they can’t trade for him and keep all their talented wings. If they traded one of them instead of Irving, then it doesn’t solve the problem of Irving leaving for nothing next offseason. In fact, it would make it worse as Leonard is a 2019 free agent as well and losing both would crush the franchise.
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PERSONALLY, I think that Boston shouldn’t worry about Irving’s scenario and should instead focus on the season ahead. But still, I know what it’s like to have a free agency decision lingering throughout the year. If they really are concerned there is a potential way to address both needs, finding Irving/Brown a new home and securing Leonard at the same time.
TO achieve this a third team would need to be included and I know the perfect front office to call. It’s no secret that Kyrie Irving is a big fan of potentially playing for the Knicks and they would welcome him with open arms. They wouldn’t need to sacrifice Porzingis, but by giving away pick No. 9 and perhaps a few extra bits and pieces they could land another true star. San Antonio would then emerge as a great suitor for Brown and along with the Knicks top-10 pick, they now have a great foundation to start the post-Kawhi era. Unfortunately, they are forced to take on Joakim Noah’s bloated salary to cross the t’s and dot the i’s, but they are still happy.
Celtics get: Kawhi Leonard
Spurs get: Jaylen Brown, Joakim Noah, 2018 1st round pick (No. 9)
Knicks get: Kyrie Irving
NO NBA altering trade of this magnitude would be this straightforward and 307 different pick swaps or other pieces would be included to make all three sides happy. This dramatically shakes up the NBA and would probably cause Twitter to self-combust. However, I can’t see any losers from such a trade. Sure the Spurs would much prefer to land Kyrie if they are giving away Leonard, but Brown and pick No. 9? That’s a pretty good consolation prize.
WILL any of this happen? Probably not, but we also used to think coming back from 3-1 down in the Finals was impossible too. Either way, with every day that passes more and more rumours, are surfacing and now no one has any idea what is fact and what is fiction. And I love every single minute of it.
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