Now a week into August, the NBA‘s rumor mill continues to churn, thanks in large part to disgruntled Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
His July trade request sent the mill into overdrive, and as we inch closer and closer to the start of training camps and Cleveland explores all the offers coming its way, it’s still fueling it.
In other news, Russell Westbrook appears to be in no hurry to sign an extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It may be nothing, but having been through the Kevin Durant saga, nervousness from Thunder fans would be understandable.
Kyrie Irving to the New York Knicks?
Shortly after Irving’s demand became public, a list of teams he’d like to play for surfaced. It included the San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves, among others.
But the biggest newsmaker on his list may have been the New York Knicks.
“His first choice is New York,” a source close to Irving told Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. “The Knicks is where he’d love to be.”
The problem with that option is that the Cavs may want Kristaps Porzingis if they’re going to give up Kyrie Irving, and the Knicks aren’t nearly as enticing a destination without the rising Latvian star.
“The only player the Cavs would really want from New York in an Irving deal is Kristaps Porzingis,” Terry Pluto wrote for Cleveland.com. “It’s very unlikely the Knicks would part with their gifted 7-foot-3 center.”
The only other possibility at the moment seems to be something centered around Carmelo Anthony. At this point in his career, he doesn’t really help the Cavs “win” a Kyrie trade, but perhaps his friendship with LeBron James could have longer-lasting ramifications. After all, Cleveland’s already back in audition mode, trying to keep its superstar from leaving again.
What about Kyrie and the Phoenix Suns?
Another option for the Cavs is the Phoenix Suns. There’s an issue there that’s similar to the one detailed above with the Knicks. The player Cleveland might really like probably isn’t available.
“The Suns would be willing to trade Eric Bledsoe as part of a deal for Irving, even if Irving makes no commitment,” Pluto wrote. “But they would not want to include rookie Josh Jackson in that deal, assuming Irving keeps his options open. The Cavs would love shooting guard Devin Booker, but he is as close to untouchable as anyone on the Suns roster.”
There’s no knowing for sure what Jackson will turn into over the course of his career. He certainly has high-end potential as a Swiss army knife-type defender and playmaker on the wing, but Irving is already an All-Star and 20-plus-point-per-game scorer. Jackson has a chance of getting there, but it’s no guarantee.
Keeping Booker off the table, though, makes more sense. Sure, his advanced numbers don’t paint a pretty picture (he finished 168th in 2016-17 box plus-minus, per Basketball Reference), but he’s still just 20 years old and had last season’s best individual game, according to Basketball Reference’s game score.
Scoring 70 in a game is an extreme rarity. And even if Booker and the Suns were hunting for it in the second half against the Boston Celtics, seeing that from a 20-year-old shows immense potential.
Will Russell Westbrook Sign an Extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder?
The Thunder are offering Westbrook nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in salary. And at the moment, even with that astronomical figure staring him in the face, he’s not signing. Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman wrote:
“Westbrook arrived in OKC late Wednesday night, but a source told The Oklahoman that the trip is not so he can sign a contract extension. Westbrook is eligible for a contract extension under the NBA’s new Designated Player Veteran Exception that – when combined with the $28.5 million he’s owed in 2017-18 – projects to pay him more than $235 million over six years.”
Westbrook’s camp has been quiet on this front since the offer became public, which could make OKC fans apprehensive. After losing a top-five player in Kevin Durant last summer, it would be easy to expect the worst when it comes to the 2017 MVP.
The biggest reason for optimism may be the acquisition of All-Star small forward Paul George. If he and Westbrook can push the Thunder to legitimate contention against the seemingly invincible Golden State Warriors, it could be hard for either one to justify leaving.
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