Cavaliers Crystal Ball: The Kyrie Irving Conundrum

Photo: Talk The Land

We’re not even out of July yet and Cleveland fans have been hit below the belt.

No, the Indians’ marginal lead in the A.L. Central isn’t the cause (props for winning five in a row…at home, no less!). The Browns haven’t even started training camp yet, so we know the quest for a quarterback isn’t quite upon us.

Nope. Our World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the mess that keep on giving.

This has got to be some kind of record for how quickly a city can come down from a championship high. It’s only been a little over a year, but as we all know, once the proverbial you-know-what hits the fan in this town, it’s all kinds of bad.

First, there was the whole “losing the Finals in 5,” thing. Then came “Griffin Gate.” Followed by the “Mr. Big Shot Watch.”

The only team to win a championship in this city in the last 50-plus years was suddenly the most dysfunctional.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Kyrie Irving decided to give us the good old, “Hold my beer.”

Photo: NBA.com

The kid that sank “The Shot” didn’t want to play for the Cavaliers anymore. Which is fine, really. If you want to go, then go. Of course, it’s never that easy.

The Cavs don’t have to trade Kyrie Irving, but of course, they will. This is still LeBron James’ team and if some guy who the King himself said was on a path to becoming an “all-time great” not so long ago wanted out, well, then let him out.

Of course, there’s the small matter (if Stephen A. Smith is to be believed) of how James really feels:

[Insert grain of salt here.]

Or just ask the man himself:

So, Kyrie Irving wants to be the man. He doesn’t want to play Robin to LeBron’s Batman any longer. Which is fine. He wants to be John Wall or Damian Lillard, guys who barely get out of the first or second round of the playoffs, but they are also the undeniable “man” of their basketball team.

Speaking of Lillard:

Every player with half a brain and thinks the world is flat deserves to be the man on a sub-.500 team.

OK, that wasn’t very nice, but then again, this is a 25-year-old guy who was drafted to replace “The Man” here in Cleveland. Then, after leading this team for four years to a whole lot of nothing, that same Man came back. Three straight trips to the Finals later (with one championship), and Irving wants out.

So that leads to the question, “What next?”

I’m not going to spout off all the trade rumors and trade machine-aficionados that think they have this all figured out. But still, if the Cavs do trade Irving, that means that no matter what, next year’s team will look particularly different.

After that, the dreaded “LeBron is leaving next!” narrative will soon start, as we all know James will be a free agent after this upcoming season.

So again, what does this team look like in two years?

Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Kevin Love have contracts that say they’ll be on this team in two years. Unless they’re traded, of course.

Gone will be Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, either to retirement or perhaps as moving pieces to get Irving where he (or the Cavs) want him to go.

Of course there are Kay Felder and Walter Tavares, who really play for the Canton Charge and just fill out roster spots. They’re both on non-guaranteed contracts and have team options that probably won’t get picked up.

Oh, and Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon, and Jeff Green? They of the one-year deals? Well, I’m thinking (probably) not.

So we have this:

Sure, it isn’t complete. There’s no way of knowing what pieces the Cavs would receive in a possible Irving trade. That gaping hole at point guard might be filled by a resurgent (and re-signed at a premium price) Rose.

But that’s asking a lot of a guy who’s knees dictate he will never be “2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose,” which you may need something at least close to that to be competitive, let alone title contenders.

Oh, and by the way, if James doesn’t re-sign, that means Kyle Korver may be your starting small forward (again, if the Cavaliers don’t net a possible replacement in the ever-discussed Kyrie-for-who-knows trade…perhaps Andrew Wiggins?)

Conjecture aside, that leaves a pretty bare cupboard three seasons removed from winning it all.

So how about it? Are you concerned? What do you see this team looking like in two years?

Let us know in the comment section or hit us up on Twitter @talktheland.

 

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