If the Cavaliers were unable to trade Kevin Love on draft night in exchange for top talents such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler, should the team shift its focus toward exploring trade offers for Kyrie Irving?
Irving, an Olympic gold medalist and four-time NBA All-Star, averaged 25.8 points in 18 postseason games in helping Cleveland reach the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. Rumors about Irving being the centerpiece of a trade to Utah that would have netted Cleveland Paul George and George Hill were widely refuted on Thursday, but the rumors triggered a valid question.
Should the Cavaliers be willing to part with Irving, who should command better value than Love on the trade market, in return for the type of talent the team covets in order to get past Golden State in the Finals?
Love, also an Olympic gold medalist and four-time All-Star, averaged 16.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in the playoffs, but faded against the Warriors, shooting 38 percent from the field.
Love’s name was linked to several rumors around the NBA Draft and beyond that involved Cleveland sending the veteran big man to teams such as Denver or Phoenix in exchange for Indiana sending George to the Cavaliers.
But Cleveland can’t seem to find a landing spot for Love, who by all rights should command a sizable ransom if a trade ever materializes. Love, who is only 28 and averaged a double-double during the regular season, has tremendous NBA value, but he just falls short of giving Cleveland what it needs in any potential matchup with Golden State.
An Irving trade, however, would almost certainly have to send top-level talent to Cleveland. That means George and probably more. But are the Cavaliers and Dan Gilbert willing to part ways with the point guard who in 2016 authored the biggest shot in franchise history and helped bring the city its first major sports championship in 52 years?