Over the weekend, Kyrie Irving announced his displeasure with the Cleveland Cavaliers organization. According to numerous league sources, Irving is tired of being the prince and wants to get a chance to be the star. He asked the Cavaliers for a trade and New York was on the list of his top potential destinations. Could Kyrie come to the Knicks? How would he fit if a trade was pulled off between the two teams?
Few want this trade to go through more than Kristaps Porzingis, who would immediately have a perfect pick and roll partner in Irving. They would immediately form one of the most devastating combos in the NBA with Irving being so tough to guard with the ball in his hands. The problem for the Knicks would be surrounding Irving and Porzingis with capable shooters. Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. are good, but they would not be enough for the Knicks to be taken seriously, even in the weakened Eastern Conference.
Defense would be a problem to say the least. Irving and Hardaway are both subpar defenders. Neither player can credibly stay in front of their man on defense and frequently lose track of their guys off the ball for easy cuts and layups. If they formed the starting backcourt for New York, it would put a lot of Porzingis to clean up defensive mistakes.
The best part of Kyrie potentially coming to New York would be his affect on the fans and Madison Square Garden. Kyrie has some of the best handles in the league and no city appreciates the razzle-dazzle of their point guards the way New York does. Irving plays like and And-1 star at times and could become king of the Garden even without bringing a championship to New York. The Knicks haven’t played much defense since the 90’s so the fans won’t even know what they are missing on the other end, especially when Kyrie can score 40 points at the drop of a hat.
The Potential Moves
If this deal gets done, it would likely involve a third team. The Suns are a popular trade partner for obvious reasons. The Knicks and Cavaliers would probably need to throw in a couple of first-round picks to get this done.
In this version, the Knicks would get Irving and absorb Dudley’s contract. The Suns would get picks, a nice young player in Willy Hernangomez, along with Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye from Cleveland. The Cavs get Carmelo Anthony and Eric Bledsoe to play alongside LeBron James. Bledsoe is not the offensive player or clutch shooter that Irving is but he is on another planet defensively. Bledsoe and LeBron are both terrifying players in the open court, so it would be fun watching the two of them wreak havoc in transition.
Another option is for the Cavs to include Kevin Love in a potential deal. It is hard to imagine the Cavs trading their second and third best players but this could be a possibility if Irving’s trade value plummets.
The main obstacle for the Knicks is that they simply lack the assets to get the deal done. LeBron might leave in a year so the Cavs are probably looking for young talent in exchange for Irving in case James decides to bolt for greener pastures. The Knicks have Porzingis, but there is no point in trading for Irving unless they are able to pair them together.
The other aspect for Knicks fans to consider is that Irving is an All-Star in his own right, but couldn’t even get the Cavaliers to the playoffs until LeBron arrived. His defense is still suspect and his feud with LeBron has got to scare some teams away. If three consecutive finals appearances don’t make him happy, then what makes the Knicks think they can keep him around? The Knicks should be wary of mortgaging their future for a player who might decide to leave even if the Knicks do make the playoffs.
The deal probably isn’t happening but if there is a deal that doesn’t involve Porzingis, it would be a no-brainer. The lights of MSG have not been as attractive to the league’s stars as it has been in years past. Irving could legitimize New York as both a destination and an organization. The Knicks do not have many other options and if the Knicks’ front office is serious about winning, they need to do everything possible to get Kyrie Irving.