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#pounditSaturday, February 4, 2023

Report: Cavs approaching Kyrie Irving talks with assumption LeBron is leaving

The Cleveland Cavaliers have not yet received a verbal commitment from LeBron James that he will re-sign with them after he opts out of his contract next summer, and they are planning their future accordingly.

With Kyrie Irving still wanting to be traded, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavs are seeking a return that includes an “elite” young player in exchange for the star point guard. If the team was confident LeBron was staying, they’d be more willing to focus on adding veterans who can help contend for a title in the short-term.

The process of building out the franchise’s roster long term has accelerated with Irving’s trade request. The Cavaliers have witnessed James’ exit strategy twice — once to leave Cleveland and once to return — and the Irving trade request has left them unwilling to squander the opportunity to replenish young assets on a roster that could be crippled in a post-James Cavaliers era that is stocked with high-priced veterans.

The Cavaliers find themselves far more fixated on a young star, including New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson and Denver’s Jamal Murray, league sources told ESPN.

Wojnarowski goes on to say that the San Antonio Spurs would make sense as a trade partner in a potential Irving deal because they have veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Danny Green. However, adding players like that only works if the Cavs are focused solely on winning now. If LeBron left next summer, they’d have a roster with expensive veterans that might not be good enough to win the East.

From the way it sounds, LeBron and the Cavs are in a bit of a stalemate. The team wants to know if James is staying so it can proceed with the Irving talks accordingly, and LeBron wants to know what the roster is going to look like in a year before he gives Cleveland a commitment. We’ve already heard specific teams mentioned that might make sense for LeBron in a year, and he could decide that he has a better chance to win elsewhere depending on how the Irving trade goes.

What should have been a relatively quiet offseason in Cleveland is suddenly anything but.


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