By: Kenny Doyle
When an NBA player requests to be traded, one webpage immediately comes to mind for many NBA fans: The NBA Trade Machine. ESPN hit the jackpot with this feature. Ever since it debuted it's been an absolute smash hit. Even disgruntled former ESPN employee Bill Simmons can't keep his hands off it. Ever since Kyrie Irving's request to be traded leaked to the media, NBA Twitter has run rampant with all sorts of crazy trade scenarios and even more rampant with replies to those trade scenarios saying how awful they are. It's impossible to come up with a trade that everyone loves, so if you want to submit one to the masses, beware of the angry Twitter users unhappy with your thinking. Here are the top 5 trade scenarios that I've thought up via the NBA Trade Machine.
There are 3 key things I looked for as the pseudo GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers in these trade scenarios:
1. Versatile Athletes
If the Cavaliers are going to have any chance of beating Golden State they are going to need players that can switch and have the capability to guard multiple positions. In a Kyrie trade, the Cavaliers chances of getting a player who is as good or better than Kyrie are slim to none, so they might as well get creative and just try to upgrade a certain area of their team and that should be defense. Kyrie is a minus defender, so if Cleveland can get a return of players that they can throw at Curry and Durant for 48 minutes that would at least be of some value to them. Look at Golden State. Their ability to have Andre Iguodala guard LeBron and allow Kevin Durant rest on defense as apposed to the Cavaliers who failed time and time again when trying to throw the likes of Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert on Durant was a huge factor in the NBA Finals. Durant destroyed the Cavaliers when they tried to put anyone outside of LeBron on him. The #1 thing the Cavaliers should be looking for in this trade are athletes with the defensive potential to guard Kevin Durant for 5-10 minutes at a time without getting completely exposed.
2. Salary Dumps
If the Cavaliers have to trade Kyrie, they might as well get out from under some of their bad contracts while they're at it. Guys like Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and even J.R. Smith are not worth their massive deals and the Cavaliers should try to ship them off while they can. Frye and Shump could barely get on the court against Golden State, so their value to the Cavs is basically nothing. Teams taking one or two of those contracts in order to get Kyrie is a must for the Cavs.
LeBron complained throughout last season about how "top heavy" the Cavaliers were. We'll see how he likes it without Kyrie, but he wasn't wrong. The Cavaliers bench was abysmal last year, so while targeting role players feels crappy, the Cavs need that as much as anything. Getting a star back on the level of Kyrie is probably not going to happen, o the Cavs have to make up for the drop off in talent some how in the trade. Depth is one option.
1. Kyrie to Phoenix
Phoenix's reluctance to give up Josh Jackson could be what stops Kyrie from heading to the valley of the Sun, but if the Suns truly won't give Jackson this may be their best offer. The Knicks have been roped into 3 team trade scenarios with the Cavs and Suns a lot, but after being on Kyrie's list, the Knicks would probably be reluctant to be a side car facilitating a Kyrie trade to another destination.
In this trade, the Cavaliers come out with 2 young forwards with some potential in Ellenson and Johnson, the latter of which has would come in with the potential to be the wing defender the Cavs need, they get a strong, championship tested veteran in Chandler to be their backup center, Dudley to replace Frye, and Bledsoe to replace Irving. The trade would make them a heck of a lot better on defense and fill a lot of the gaps they had last season. They also dump Frye and Shumpert's salaries (which they will in a lot of these trades). The Pistons swap out 2 young players for 2 different ones in the hopes of adding more scoring to a roster desperate for it. If the Cavs want some of the Suns picks on top of this, the Suns should oblige. Getting Kyrie and keeping Booker and Jackson make it well worth it.
2. Kyrie to San Antonio
This is one of my 2 favorites, but this one is a true masterpiece. Nobody thinks there is any possible way to get Kyrie to the Spurs like he's requested, but this could be a perfect trade for the Cavaliers. They get Tony Parker who still could have one last playoff run in him of averaging 16 and 6 for the Cavs on top of Gordon and Green who could help the Cavs defensive woes tremendously. The Spurs have reportedly been looking for a way to get LaMarcus Aldridge off their team and the Magic are desperate to get back into the playoffs. A starting lineup of Payton, Fournier, Isaac, Aldridge, and Biyombo could be good enough in the east if Aldridge averages 20 and Isaac pops in his rookie season. On top of giving up Parker, Green, and Murray to the Cavs they take on all 2 of the Cavs bad contracts and can still trot out a starting lineup of Irving, Rudy Gay, Leonard, Gasol, and Vucevic which is arguably better than what they had last season. The Cavaliers unload about 6 million dollars off their payroll this year, which his huge for a team as deep in the tax as they are. They could choose to keep J.R. over taking on Ross, but that's neither here not there. This trade gives them the mix of defense, shooting, scoring, and young prospects they need to make this trade a success.
3. Kyrie to Charlotte
I have to give the credit to @BennyGan53 for this one. I love this trade, It's quick, it's simple, and it's and easy fit. Kemba's style of play is very similar to Kyrie's so it won't be all that hard for the Cavaliers to adjust and Batum slides in as an ideal switch defender for the Cavs at the 2. Kemba isn't going to give the Cavs all of the difficult and clutch shot making that Kyrie does, but he's just about as close as it gets to a Kyrie clone in the NBA.
For the Hornets, they get a guy in Kyrie who they can hand the keys to the franchise to. If Kyrie wants to be "the guy", then he'll get that chance in Charlotte. He could put up 30 on that Charlotte roster. If Monk works out for the Hornets he could be an ideal backcourt mate for Kyrie, much in the mold of the guy the Cavs hoped they could have gotten in the 2012 NBA Draft when they targeted Bradley Beal. A lineup of Kyrie, Monk, MKG, and 2 of their many bigs is probably enough to jolt the Hornets into the playoffs next season.
4. Kyrie to Miami
Wings. Wings. Wings. Rose, Dragic, Johnson, Richardon, Korver, J.R., Winslow, James. These players allow the Cavs to play lots of small ball lineups, mix and match with different teams, and gives them a lot more lineup flexibility if one of their shooters is having an off night. It's the best the Heat can offer and in reality it's probably still not enough. Even though Miami was on Kyrie's list, they have a worse chance of putting together an intriguing package than even the Spurs.
5. Kyrie to Denver
A Kyrie to Denver trade was discussed at length on Zach Lowe's latest edition of The Lowe Post with his guest Brian Windhorst. While it may not be the ideal situation if Kyrie wants to be the clear cut primary star since Jokic has already taking the reigns as the face of the franchise, if Denver is all in on capitalizing on their window with Paul Millsap, they would probably love to make a deal for Kyrie. A lineup of Kyrie/Murray/Barton/Millsap/Jokic is a tough out in the west. Kyrie would be the teams leading scorer, but splitting time as the primary facilitator with Jokic could be a struggle. For the Cavs, getting back 3 versatile defenders in Harris, who would start at the 2 for them, Chandler, and Faried. The Cavaliers clear a lot of money off the books in this deal and save millions on the luxary tax. While it may take a flurry of picks and a lack of other appealing offers to pull the trigger on this deal, it nets the Cavs some solid rotation players who can help their defense and shooting and hopefully that's enough.
Photo: (Bleacher Report)