While the Kyrie Irving trade conundrum continues, the list of teams interested in Kyrie Irving continues to grow. The Toronto Raptors have thrown themselves in the mix. Toronto has called about getting Kyrie Irving, but their interest level isn’t fully known. Just because the Raptors have called the Cavaliers about getting Kyrie Irving, it doesn’t mean they’re pushing to get him. While they may or may not be serious about adding Irving to their team, it’s always fun to think about the possibilities.
Other teams have been in talks with the Cavaliers, but no deals have been done yet. I’ve previously written articles breaking down what possible trades for Kyrie Irving could look like with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons. Now it’s time to see what the Raptors have to offer.
As noted in previous trade breakdowns, Cleveland is looking for a veteran starter, a blue chip player still on their rookie contract, and a first round pick in exchange for Kyrie Irving.
Two players come to mind when thinking about the veteran players Toronto could offer the Cavaliers. Those two players are Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.
Kyle Lowry is a player who has similar production to Kyrie Irving. Some of Lowry’s stats are just a little under what Kyrie produced last season, but he also has stats that are better than what Kyrie produced. Lowry put up better numbers than Kyrie in steals, assists, rebounds, and 3PT%. They were just about even in most of those categories, but the biggest difference I see between Lowry and Irving, is Lowry’s ability and willingness to pass the ball.
Kyrie Irving is a great offensive player, but he focuses mostly on scoring. He has his games where his assist numbers are high, but I don’t think his first thought is to create a shot for his teammates. Kyle Lowry is more that guy. While Lowry isn’t the dynamic scorer that Irving is, he is still a big enough scoring threat that he demands attention from a defense. The attention he demands allows him to create open shots for his teammates. I think a point guard with more of a pass first mentality might be good for the Cavaliers. I feel like their players, especially Kyrie, often try to create a lot of shots for themselves, rather than moving the ball around and creating better shots.
Another factor that we won’t look too much into, is clutchness. Kyrie has proven he can get it done in the playoffs and in big games, while Kyle Lowry seems to take a step back in those moments.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ve probably seen me mention how the Cavaliers ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency about a million times already. The Cavs need defense. They can’t just keep relying on their offense to win games. It only works to a certain point. Adding Serge Ibaka to their team could help the Cavaliers greatly in the defensive department.
Ibaka is a defender the Cavaliers need. He’s a great rim protector. He’s averaged 2.4 blocks throughout his NBA career. While he may not be the same 3.7 blocks per game Ibaka he was back in 2011, his 1.6 blocks per game last season still make him one of the better shot blockers in the league. He doesn’t have the nickname Iblocka for nothing.
While offense isn’t Ibaka’s greatest strength, his offensive numbers are respectable. He averaged 14.8 points last season, and has averaged at least 12.6 points every year since the 2012-13 season.
Blue Chip Player On Rookie Contract
After looking through the Raptors roster, the player I see who most likely fits this description, is rookie OG Anunoby. Anunoby was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the most recent NBA Draft. This came as a surprise to many, as he was projected to go much higher in the draft. His ACL injury allowed him to fall to the Raptors, who took a risk on him. A risk that could pay off.
Anunoby was a great defender in college. He has the ability to guard multiple positions. He’s long, athletic, and physical. Again, the Cavs need defense. Anunoby can help the Cavs fill that need. His offensive skills aren’t the best, but he’s got a lot of potential to grow into a good scorer. If Anunoby can get back to being the player he was before his injury, I think he would fit what the Cavs are looking for in a young player.
What’s Most Likely?
While the Cavaliers need defense more than offense, I think it’d be more likely to say that Kyle Lowry would be traded over Serge Ibaka. Both Irving and Lowry play point guard, and I don’t see a scenario where one of them is willing to come off the bench. The Raptors could move DeRozan to small forward and have three guards on the floor, but I’m not too sure about that one. It makes perfect sense to swap point guards, because neither team would want to be without one.
Trading for Ibaka would put the Cavs in a situation when it comes to big men. Having Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Serge Ibaka could create some problems in their rotation. I just think it’s more likely to say that Kyle Lowry would be traded.
A potential trade could look something like this:
Raptors get: Kyrie Irving
Cavaliers get: Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby, and a future first round pick.
The Raptors first round pick situation is a little tricky, so depending on what happens there, the Raptors may or may not be able to give Cleveland what they’re looking for.
I think this would be a good deal for the Cavaliers. I’m not sure how Kyrie Irving would fit next to DeMar DeRozan, as both players are more focused on scoring and creating shots for themselves. I think that might not go so well when it comes to winning games, but you can’t blame the Raptors for at least thinking about this. Kyrie Irving is one of the best talents in the league. If he’s available, I would imagine most teams are thinking about the possibility of trading for him.