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NBA AM: The Cavaliers Trying To Find Their Deal

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Cavs Trying To Find Their Deal

With the news that Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving has asked the team to trade him has now settled in as something real, the Cleveland Cavaliers have started to wade through what one insider called “unprecedented interest.”

In early July, Irving told senior leadership with the Cavaliers that he no longer wanted to be part of the team and urged them to explore trading him. Irving reportedly provided the Cavs with four teams (San Antonio, Miami, Minnesota and New York) that he would openly endorse a trade to. While the Cavs have no restrictions on where they ultimately trade Irving, the idea of an endorsement from Irving was expected to allow the Cavs to get a greater return if his new team believed he’d stay beyond his current contract, which expires in July of 2019.

The Cavs had hoped to keep the trade demand in-house and find a deal before they had to negotiate deals in the press. However, it seems that once some of the Cavalier roster players found out, they opted to spread the news, mostly in defense of Cavaliers star LeBron James.

One league source, who has been involved in some of the due diligence on a trade for Irving, said the Cavs had heard from basically every team in the league in some capacity, with some teams being more aggressive in their pursuit of an Irving deal than others. It’s believed the Cavs are seeking at least one proven veteran who can play and contribute right away as well as a younger rising talent player still on a rookie scale deal. Another stated goal is to dump off some salary and reduce the luxury tax bill.

There has been considerable talk that the Phoenix Suns have been aggressive in their pursuit of an Irving deal as have the Denver Nuggets. Both teams offer an interesting set of options for the Cavs including veterans that could plug immediate needs and a cupboard full of rookie scale players that meet the upside need of the Cavs.

A Suns deal would likely be built around guard Eric Bledsoe, who is part of James’ agency Klutch Sports. The Suns have a roster filled with promising young players, and they have a stable of future draft picks and plenty of room under the salary cap to absorb contract money.

A Nuggets deal would likely be built around swingman Wilson Chandler and possibly Will Barton. Like the Suns, the Nuggets have a roster filled with assets like Kenneth Faired and Emmanuel Mudiay, whom the Nuggets have explored trading in the past. The Nuggets do not have space under the cap that the Suns have, but they do have proven veterans to pack into a deal that could meet the Cavs desire to stay among the elite in the East after an Irving deal.

One team that has logged real interest is the New York Knicks, their offer is believed to be built around sending out Carmelo Anthony, but as the Irving story enters its third day, there does not seem to be much interest in Anthony from the Cleveland side. The Knicks have been hoping to return something meaningful in an Anthony deal, but continue to hear that Houston is the only situation Anthony would waive his no-trade clause for.

League sources pegged the Heat and Magic as teams with the right kinds of assets to pursue Irving, but there does not seem to be as much motivation from either to enter the race, although it’s believed the process is still very early.

While early or aggressive interest in a deal doesn’t mean much at this stage of the process, it is interesting to see who is really after this and who seems to be sitting back and waiting for the Cavs to narrow their list.

With the Cavaliers reaching a one-year deal with Derrick Rose, the belief is he was told that an Irving deal would happen before training camp and that he would likely be the starter for the Cavs when camp opens.

One league source whose team has logged some interest explained that whoever gets Irving is likely going to have to take on guard Iman Shumpert at a minimum, mainly to help the Cavs balance what’s becoming a hefty luxury tax bill.

While things with the Cavaliers seem to be progressing, there is a sense that the team is wading through a ton of interest before narrowing things down to a handful of situations they will seriously explore. While there is an expectation that the Cavs will do something before training camp opens, there is not a sense that this will get resolved quickly, as things are just starting to really take shape.

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About Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.