The Cleveland Cavaliers almost had an entirely different lineup before the 2017 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers were reportedly involved in a five-team trade that will send Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to Cleveland. The latest rumors added that Kyrie Irving was part of the deal with Irving heading to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and the 2017 fourth overall pick.
Jonathan Sherman of Cavaliers Nation first reported that the Cavaliers were involved in a five-team trade talk that would have brought Anthony and George to Cleveland. The deal reportedly fell through because the teams involved are not interested in Kevin Love, his contract and injury history.
After more than a week, details of the failed trade have emerged. The five teams involved in the supposed blockbuster trade include the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns, and Denver Nuggets. The Cavaliers were not only getting Anthony and George but also Bledsoe from the Suns.
Cleveland was so desperate to improve their team in order to compete with the Golden State Warriors that they were open to trading Kyrie Irving, their second-best player. Irving was a monster for the Cavaliers in the 2017 NBA playoffs wherein he averaged 25.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in 18 games.
According to Vince Grzegorek of Cleveland Scene, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert orchestrated the trade and he even consulted LeBron James about it. The Cavaliers would have sent Kyrie Irving to Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe and the 2017 fourth overall pick, which was getting shipped to Indiana for Paul George. However, the deal fell through when James did not fully commit to staying beyond the 2017-18 NBA season.
“Cavs had a deal in place pre-draft with Suns. Kyrie and something like Channing Frye to Phoenix for Eric Bledsoe and the 4th pick. Would have shipped the No. 4 to Indy for Paul George. Gilbert approached LeBron for a guarantee he’d stay in Cleveland longer than next season and didn’t get it and the deal died.”
Stephen A. Smith of ESPN (h/t FanSided) confirmed on First Take that no team was interested in acquiring Kevin Love. Smith also noted that Carmelo Anthony was still resisting a trade even to Cleveland and it made Phil Jackson even more upset. Now that the draft is over, the Cavaliers and Suns are reportedly in discussions again about an Eric Bledsoe trade.
The Suns are now interested in Love with Bledsoe going to Cleveland and Kyrie Irving staying. The Cavaliers will now push Irving to a more comfortable role as a shooting guard while Bledsoe runs the team with LeBron James. It should also be noted that Bledsoe and James have a great relationship with LeBron treating Eric as a younger brother.
Eric Bledsoe is not better than Kyrie Irving but he is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Bledsoe averaged 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.4 steals last season but he has also been injury prone. The Cavaliers are taking a big risk on Bledsoe if ever they finalized a deal for him.
Nevertheless, these are just rumors and nothing has been confirmed by the teams involved. The Cavaliers are still without a general manager and the threat of LeBron James leaving Cleveland again is real. Kyrie Irving is one of the best players in the league today and he would have a lot of suitors if ever the Cavaliers decide to trade him.
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