During the 2017 NBA offseason, Kyrie Irving made one of the biggest headlines when he demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. After Irving reportedly threatened the Cavaliers that he would undergo knee surgery if they didn’t grant his request, the Cavaliers decided to trade him to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and draft picks.
However, before the Cavaliers engaged in a blockbuster trade with the Celtics, it was revealed that Cleveland almost sent Kyrie Irving to Phoenix in a three-team deal with the Suns and the Indiana Pacers, where they could have acquired Paul George and Eric Bledsoe. Jason Lloyd, of The Athletic, reported that the deal fell apart after the Cavaliers owner parted ways with former general manager David Griffin and executive Trent Redden before their contracts expired.
In an appearance on BBall Breakdown Podcast, transcribed by HoopsHype, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin gave an interesting take on why the Suns decided not to push through with the three-team deal that would have given them Kyrie Irving. McMenamin revealed that Irving’s attitude in his final season with the Cavaliers may have influenced the Suns to pass up the trade. McMenamin revealed that during the first and second round of the 2017 playoffs, Irving didn’t speak to any one of his teammates.
“On that stage. It’s one thing to say people go through ups and downs during the regular season. But when you get to the playoffs, when the main thing is the main thing, and we’re brothers and pulling together to get this thing done, even at that level there were still things that made him sullen or reclusive from his teammates. I’m not so sure if Phoenix would be interested in that type of deal.”
Kyrie Irving calls LeBron to apologize https://t.co/mNQSFOeJaj
— MarketWatch (@MarketWatch) January 18, 2019
During that time, the Suns named James Jones as their vice president of basketball operations. Jones was Kyrie Irving’s teammate for three NBA seasons in Cleveland, so he definitely knew how the All-Star point guard acted inside the locker room and how he would affect the culture they’re building in Phoenix.
In the 2018-19 NBA season, Kyrie Irving has been critical of his young teammates whenever the Celtics underperform on both ends of the floor. That could be one of the major things that Jones and the Suns were trying to avoid when they passed on trading for Irving. Irving would have undeniably given the Suns an immediate solution to their backcourt problem, but it could have had a great effect on the development of the face of the franchise, Devin Booker.