It was June 19, 2016—The day that the Cleveland Cavaliers have won their first championship in franchise history, and the first in the city of Cleveland in any sport since 1964. They made NBA history, becoming the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, and overcoming a Warriors team that set the most wins in a regular season with a 73-9 record.
Now, lets skip to the summer of 2017, where the Cavaliers have recently lost in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors for the second time in three years. While other teams are trying to improve their rosters to compete against the Warriors, the Cavs are well above the cap space, which does not allow them to improve their roster by signing big free agent names. And, since many of their players have pretty big contracts, it decreases their trade value, making it hard to bring players from the trade market such as Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, etc. The Cavs have also parted ways with their general manager, David Griffin over a month ago and have yet to sign someone else for the job. LeBron James has also expressed frustration and disappointment in the Cavs’ offseason, with rumors are roaming around him for leaving next year in free agency.
As the Cavs’ summer is already pretty bad, you might wonder what else can happen? Their star point guard Kyrie Irving has requested to be traded out of Cleveland. (This is when the Cavs desperately need to hire a general manager that can deal with the player’s egos). According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said, “Irving has said that he wants to play in a situation where he can be more of a focal point and that he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.” His preferred destinations to be traded to are the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, but without a no trade clause, he cannot really choose which team to play for.
When LeBron was informed about this trade request, he “was blindsided and dissapointed.” The other player of the Cavs’ “Big 3,” Kevin Love, had an interesting response when was asked “how are things,” on Twitter:
Although Irving has claimed that he does not want to play with LeBron, he is not successful without James playing alongside him. During the regular season, the Cavs have been outscored by 90 points in 574 minutes when Irving is on the court without James. In the NBA Finals, they were outscored 37-13 while Irving played without LeBron.
Kyrie is a 4 time All-Star, and averaged 21.6 points and 5.6 assists per game in his career. Last season, he averaged a career high 25.2 points and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 40.1 percent from the arc.
Although the East have lost teams contending for the playoffs after trading or losing their star players during the offseason, the Celtics have added Gordon Hayward and the No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum to their roster, making them a bigger threat to LeBron and the Cavs to making the NBA Finals. Without Irving on their roster, can the Cavs make it to the Finals for the forth consecutive year, and for LeBron, his eighth year in a row?