The Cavaliers weren’t sure they were going to trade Kyrie Irving even after the trade request happened
When Kyrie Irving demanded a trade from the Cavaliers it shook the basketball world. Here was the star point guard of a team that had gone to three straight NBA Finals, won the second time, and he’s asking out to achieve different goals. However, while Irving requested a trade, there was no guarantee that Cleveland had to trade him.
Count Cavs coach Tyronn Lue among those who didn’t think the Cavs had to trade Irving. Did Cleveland have to trade him or could they wait it out and see if his mind would change just like Kobe Bryant did when he requested a trade from the Lakers in the mid-2000s.
His coach, Tyronn Lue, advised they hold onto Irving, just like the Los Angeles Lakers did when Lue’s former teammate Bryant demanded a trade.
“We wanted to figure out, is this real?” Altman says. “Is Kyrie someone we might want to bring back and say, ‘Hey, look, players have figured it out in the past. You’re going to figure it out. We’re going to still be really good, we’re going to be winning games, so it’s not going to be all awful.’ You know what I mean? So thinking about the parameters of that, the implications of that was something we were also always debating.”
This was the first move that new Cavs General Manager Koby Altman was forced to make into his tenure. A move that could define his entire tenure. He just inherited a contender and, if he made the wrong decision, could easily blow up everything that had been built to that point. It would have been easy for Altman to just ride it out with Irving and see what happened from there.
That’s not what happened. Altman took the risky way and, despite Lue’s suggestion, made a move for the Celtics Isaiah Thomas. Even though Irving has played great with the Celtics there’s still a chance that Thomas proves to be a great addition next to LeBron James on the Cavaliers.
“You can’t get better trading a four-time All-Star going into his prime and a 25-year-old point guard going into his prime,” Altman said, “but it gives you a unique opportunity to shuffle the deck and figure out long-term planning, but also figure out what goes around LeBron that’s going to help us win a championship.”
With Thomas finally playing again, the question that’s been on everybody’s mind since the summer can be answered. Did the Cavs get better trading Irving away for Thomas? Only the results on the court will give the answer.