To use someone or something is mostly perceived to be a negative term. It can be viewed as an act of manipulation where one party gets exploited, while the other benefits from the relationship. What can be positive is if both parties understand what they are potentially getting themselves into but yet still profit from each other. This is the precarious situation both the Knicks and Cavaliers point guard, Kyrie Irving, can find themselves in. We are more than a month into “Irving Watch”, with no particular traction on a potential deal to get him out of Cleveland. With Kyrie looking to find himself a new team and the Knicks looking to gain respectability, the two parties can use each other to get what they want.
After three straight NBA Finals appearances and one championship, the pairing between LeBron and Kyrie has mostly been a success. But, much like Kobe Bryant earlier in his career with Shaq, Kyrie wants to take on the challenge of playing without his all-world running mate. It does seem like a deeper issue though. LeBron’s unwillingness to squash the loud murmurs of his potential departure next season also may be a factor. The passive aggressive “King” has spent the whole summer posting cryptic messages on social media and watching the sports world try to decode them like Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Nonetheless, Kyrie’s desire does seem a bit short-sided. No doubt, there is a level of sacrifice that naturally transpires when playing with LeBron. But there is no disputing Irving’s profile has risen while playing deep into June over the past three seasons. Who has the number one selling basketball shoe, according to Forbes? Kyrie. This only happens when playing deep into June becomes a constant and letting the world marvel over your dazzling skills. LeBron is the ultimate stock raiser. Playing with him gives his teammates a chance to play in multiple NBA Finals series.
Kyrie must be yearning for the chance to shake the “LeBron can win with anybody” narrative. Even with Kyrie’s greatness, there is still a segment of the public that questions him as an all-around ball player. His defensive commitment fluctuates, and even though he has the size of a point guard he still struggles as a playmaker. Numbers don’t lie, and the record when LeBron doesn’t play since he has come back to Cleveland is abysmal. The Cavs are 4 and 21 when he doesn’t play. Even during the NBA Finals, there were stretches when the team looked discombobulated when he was on the bench. Kyrie most certainly has to evolve and develop as a player if his wish is granted to become “the man” elsewhere.
This could also be a seminal moment for a Knicks franchise looking to gain respectability. Unlike the Cavaliers, the past three years for the Knicks have gone according to the script. The dysfunction and losses have continued. A Kyrie Irving trade would do a lot in steering the franchise in the right direction. The Knicks are currently in a situation where they are trying to trade Carmelo Anthony. They are also looking to reset from the previous era. Kristaps Porzingis is next in line for the Knicks’ “Savior” title. Imagine having the ability to pair the 21-year old Latvian prodigy with a 25-year old champion in Irving.
New General Manager Scott Perry would definitely be off to an electrifying start if he could swing a trade for Kyrie without giving up many draft picks. The trade is obviously incumbent upon many different variables. With talks stalled and no deal imminent, it would take a lot for the Knicks to pull this off this summer. But if the team can do it, they would have a clear, coherent direction for the first time in a while.
Times like these are when the NBA is so fascinating. This offseason has been filled with surprise trades and soap opera-like story lines. It’s all thanks to the Golden State Warriors’ dominance. None have been more earth-shattering however than this Kyrie Irving news. Both the Knicks and Kyrie don’t necessarily need each other. Both parties are definitely what each other are looking for however. It’s a new challenge from a player’s perspective and a clear, exciting new direction for the franchise in New York.