On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic caused a stir when he reported that Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving may want out, and that if he does, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks would be his most likely suitors.
Irving to the Lakers may make sense, as he won an NBA championship with LeBron James several years ago, and Irving to the Knicks may not be far-fetched, as they do need a guard who can score.
But Irving playing for the Clippers may not work well.
Granted, the Clippers do need a legitimate floor general who can run the team, but Irving is not their best option in that regard.
Would Irving Fit With Paul George And Kawhi Leonard?
George and Leonard have already been a questionable fit, as their skill sets are somewhat redundant, and neither of them are truly off-the-ball players.
Adding a rather ball-dominant player like Irving to the mix would be hard to manage.
Although this current iteration of the Clippers has been very efficient offensively when healthy, it has not been a team that is known for lots of ball and player movement or a free-flowing offense.
In Leonard and George’s three seasons together, L.A. has ranked just 22nd, 17th and 16th, respectively, in assists.
Some have criticized the team for lacking a strong identity on offense, as it is certainly not a fast-breaking team, but it also doesn’t force opponents to slow it down and grind it out, a la the Miami Heat.
While Irving can certainly facilitate and get others involved, as evidenced by his career average of 5.7 assists per game, he is primarily a scorer.
He has had his most success when paired with a true facilitator, such as James, and his Nets had some success (when healthy) because James Harden and not Irving was their primary facilitator.
If Irving were to join the Clippers, there is a good chance that there would simply be too much “my turn, your turn” basketball for them to win it all.
Kyrie Irving is a great individual talent…
But I don’t know that messing with this Clippers team is a good idea. When healthy, no one stopped them, and we haven’t even seen what they’re fully capable of with Norm/RoCo.
Durability is also a big concern… Idk man.
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 20, 2022
Do The Clippers Even Have The Assets To Acquire Him?
The Clippers may not be destitute when it comes to tradable assets, but will the tradable assets they have be palatable enough to the Nets?
Another problem is that the Clippers gave up tons of draft capital to acquire George, and the Nets would likely want at least one future first-round pick in return for Irving.
Perhaps a three-team trade could get it done, but such deals are very complicated and difficult to pull off.
One rumor has the Lakers getting Irving by involving the Oklahoma City Thunder in a three-team deal, with the Thunder giving the Nets some draft picks in return.
– OKC gets Russ, LAL 2027 + 2029 unprotected 1sts
– BKN gets ~$35M TPE and 1-2 decent 1sts from OKC’s trove
– LAL get Kyrie
— JMC (@peacemaker991) June 20, 2022
In such a trade, there is the “Russell Westbrook returns to OKC” angle to market for one placeholder year, after which his huge contract comes off the books, or the Thunder could simply buy out Westbrook’s contract.
Would the Clippers be able to give the Thunder similar cap relief?