On Tuesday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported Irving has let some of his former Team USA teammates "know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially if he feels the Cavs' run could end quickly with James able to opt out after next season".
Getting a trade done with either team presents its own set of challenges.
Several league executives who spoke to the Tribune believe Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves could engage the Bulls on Thursday, although that package likely would have to include young players because the seventh pick falls outside the top impact players. This has hurt his trade value considerably. Cleveland is in the precarious position of trying to improve in the short term without mortgaging their future. If he stays the team can not win a title unless someone with more talent is eventually brought in.
That's what makes the idea of trading for George such a risk. It continued with reports that the team is interested in Jimmy Butler and Paul George.
Butler, who has been an All-Star the past three seasons, is guaranteed to be with the Bulls through the 2018-19 season, with an option for 2019-20.
Wade, 35, posted 18.3 points per game last season in a career-low 29.9 minutes.
Sam Amico of Amico Sports said there was no truth to the reports that some Cavs players warned Butler to stay away from Cleveland. But Butler reportedly told the Cavs he would like to remain with the Bulls.
Does he simply select the best player available?
Butler, 6-foot-7, will be 28 when the 2017-18 season begins. "I love Kyrie's game, and he's a really good dude". Even if the team is going through a bit of a transition period, bringing in a player of Butler's caliber is a move almost every team hopes to make.
George is Indiana's leading scorer, though he might fit in seamlessly as Cleveland's third-scoring option. The fact that Lowry is also coming off a season in which he shot 41 percent from three-point range doesn't hurt.
While James' homecoming was a nice story, it's important to remember the Cavaliers offered him a better chance to win than most other destinations. Going forward they might need one more All-Star presence on their roster to securing a more promising future. The Cavaliers are a (defending conference title) team in turmoil, and the big splash he wanted Griffin to make is now out of reach.
For Ainge and the Celtics, the window is open now and acquiring proven, top-tier players is the most logical way to revamp the NBA's most winningest franchise.
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