By Eduardo Monk Jr
Yeah, yeah, I know, I already wrote this same article only days ago. But if you have forgotten, we are in a dead spot for sports. Baseball has some bustling trade rumors and the NFL is rekindling with training camps but aside from that, this Kyrie Irving trade request situation is the most enthralling NBA storyline since Kevin Durant’s free agency from a season ago. So we’re doing it again folks but this time, I believe I have found the ideal decision for the Cavaliers in this nightmare scenario they are stuck in.
The Cavaliers have this problem because Kyrie doesn’t want to play with LeBron. And most have already decided that the way to go is simply to trade Kyrie. Move him for some star and attempt to keep up with Golden State for a few more years until LeBron declines. But the way I would be going is to trade LeBron.
Allow me to explain.
This latest case of “secondary star wants out because they want to prove they can win without primary star” is heavily reminiscent of the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers. This Kyrie Irving fiasco is nearly a carbon copy of that Kobe Bryant fiasco.
The story goes 24-year-old Kobe Bryant had demanded a trade from the Lakers for the exact same reason as Kyrie. As Irving wants to win without LeBron, Kobe wanted to win without Shaquille O’Neal. The question whether he could win without Shaq was one of the most dominating storylines of the early 2000s in the NBA as though the Lakers were three-time champions, most chalked the brunt of the glory on Shaq.
So the Lakers were in a tough situation. Either they could trade Kobe and keep riding with Shaq or go the ulterior route of trading Shaq and ride with Kobe from there on out. And as we already know, they moved Shaq to Miami. The Lakers would go on to win two more Finals and Kobe would go down as all-time great while Shaq would win one more Finals and also go down as an all-time great.
Irving’s trade request is basically the same concept as the 2004 Lakers. And the Cavs should handle this the exact same way for two reasons. LeBron’s current unpredictability and their ages.
As of right now, LeBron is 32 and Kyrie is 25. The Cavaliers will probably be able to squeeze 5 or so more years out of James before he starts declining. While Irving hasn’t even hit his prime yet and still has who knows how many years left in the tank. And for a four-time All-Star already, there is no telling how good he can become in his career.
The Lakers won with the young guy. There’s no reason the Cavaliers shouldn’t do the same.
But more importantly, LeBron James has proven in his career he goes where he can win. He left Cleveland the first time for this reason, he left Miami for this reason and he will most likely leave Cleveland a second time for this reason. He can opt out of his contract as soon as next summer and if the Cavaliers get blasted in the Finals again, it’s probably the end of the LeBron James era in Cleveland.
So either way, it’s just going to be Kyrie in Cleveland until 2019 when his contract ends. What’s the point of trading him for someone like Carmelo Anthony just for the Cavaliers to just keep losing in the Finals when you can build a future championship roster around Kyrie?
No team is going to come close to keeping up with Golden State for at the least the next three season while the Cavaliers are going nowhere with LeBron right now. And yeah, while he’s the only reason the city of Cleveland is still on maps, his career isn’t going to last forever. And with a star as bright as Irving, the Cavaliers can’t trade him unless they get a deal that would allow them to beat the Warriors.
And yeah, there’s no doubt trading LeBron will severely hurt them in the upcoming seasons, not to mention the repercussions from the fans and even LeBron himself will be massive and overwhelmingly negative. But it will be worth it if the Cavaliers can pull off this minor rebuild. They have no chance at the Finals right now. Why not build now for a large chance post-Warriors with Kyrie at the helm?
The ball is in your court, Koby Altman.