If the Cavs are to trade Kyrie Irving, and at this point it seems like a near certainty, they will essentially have to choose between going all-in on 2017-18 or shoring up their long-term future in case LeBron James leaves next summer. According to a new report by ESPN, they are focusing on the latter.
Cleveland has been through this before, having lost James in free agency back in 2010 and they appear intent on making sure they are set up well for that scenario to happen again.
Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:
As the Cleveland Cavaliers deliberate on deals to move All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, the franchise is operating under a self-prescribed mandate: presume a future without LeBron James.
The Cavs aren't giving up on the possibility of re-signing James next summer, but they are no longer investing blind faith in the hope he will stay.
The report goes on to link the Cavs to Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks, Jayson Tatum of the Celtics, Josh Jackson of the Suns and Jamal Murray of the Nuggets. All four are young players on the rise who could help the Cavs rebuild after a potential James exit.
Porzingis is the best of that bunch and easily the most proven, but would likely be the hardest to pry away. Tatum and Jackson are intriguing, but have yet to play an NBA game. And Murray is very talented, but may not have the superstar potential the other three offer.
It's not an easy call for the Cavs, but deciding to go this route of focusing on the long-term should make their options more clear. And it could be a great thing for other teams in the Eastern Conference like the Wizards. The Cavs could be better suited down the road once James leaves, but in the short-term may be weakened by going younger.
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