Weekly Mailbag: Kyrie, Cavs-Celtics deal, LeBron
What are the chances that the Kyrie Irving deal falls apart? If they do keep the deal together what pieces will Celtics send the Cavaliers? - Scott S.
Dear Scott, the more we learn about this, the more it seems as if the trade will go through, as is, by Thursday morning. The Celtics may throw in a second-round pick. I doubt it's more than that. But I could also see the Cavs pulling out altogether. It's a long shot, but the possibility exists. Much will depend on what Dan Gilbert decides. If he feels the Cavs are getting shortchanged, he'll pull out. Should be an interesting 10-20 hours.
Any back-channel phone calls taking place on Kyrie? Other teams trying to swoop in to steal him? Or are the Cavs solely focused on the Celtics deal for now? - Don P.
Dear Don, some teams have called, but the Cavs remain committed to working out the trade. They want that Brooklyn pick. But yes, they will start making calls again, should it fall through.
Have you noticed that LeBron James has been quiet on Twitter about getting new teammates? He usually sends a welcome tweet to the new guys. I did see the tweet for Kyrie. I understand why Jae Crowder (mom's death) has been silent but Isaiah Thomas hasn't made comment either. I just find it interesting (as much as these guys live on Twitter) that they have been a little hush hush. - Scott M.
Dear Scott, I think they knew what we found out long before we found out about it. In other words, their agents probably heard whispers that the Cavs were having doubts about Thomas' injury ... and therefore, everyone stayed quiet. The one thing I can tell you, in 20 years covering this league, is that the players and people who actually work in the league often find out inside stuff LONG before the rest of us. But honestly, all that matters is how well they play together. Anything off the floor is irrelevant. The Warriors aren't hanging out with each other or close off the court, and they sure do OK.
What do you think are the chances the Cavs make a push for Anthony Davis if the Pelicans aren't doing well? - Alex M.
Dear Alex, the Cavs could possibly make a push, but Davis has made it clear he loves playing for the Pelicans and doesn't want to go anywhere. When you have a star who says those things, you keep him. I've asked around, and the Pelicans seemingly wouldn't trade Davis for Kevin Durant, etc. So if the Cavs want to talk to the Pelicans, they will probably have to start with DeMarcus Cousins. That's more realistic -- but even that seemingly wouldn't be realistic until like January or February.
Can you please give some clarity on the Cavs' picks in the 2018 draft? - Mike
Dear Mike, assuming the trade with the Celtics goes through, the Cavs will have Brooklyn's pick (perhaps top 5-10 range), as well as their own. That's it. No second-rounders. By the way, perhaps much to the dismay of some fans, NBA.Draft.net has the Cavs selecting Duke guard Grayson Allen with their own pick (No. 26) in a very early 2018 mock.
Why are we not hearing or discussing the possibilities of Jae Crowder starting at the two guard over J.R. Smith? Don't you think he's a better defensive player and more consistent offensive player, and Smith would be more beneficial coming off the bench? - Brad S.
Dear Brad, interesting question, but I think we will need to wait until training camp to talk camp battles. But once there, I don't think the Cavs are desperate to shake up their starting lineup after the Boston trade. It will already be shook up enough. You need SOME stability. But if Crowder proves to be a more valuable two guard, he'll get the job. But it is Smith's job to lose. The Cavs love the idea of Crowder playing 25-30 minutes off the bench.
What's behind the timing of Kyrie making the trade request when he did? If his primary motivation was to get out from LeBron's shadow, why did it take three years? Do you think it was also motivated by the uncertainty of LeBron's future? - Nick B.
Dear Nick, I've been told Kyrie's decision has nothing to do with LeBron's free agency. (In fact, I've been told Kyrie specifically picked teams that he thinks LeBron wouldn't join in the event LeBron leaves the Cavs.) Nor do I think it took three years for Kyrie to get tired of playing in LeBron's shadow. I just think it took three years for him to work up the courage to address it. Right or wrong, sometimes stars just don't align. This isn't the first time this has happened in pro sports and it won't be the last.
It's funny how fragile things are in pro sports. A few short years ago the Cavs were building around youth (Kyrie, Wiggins, Waiters). One summer ago everyone's celebrating the first championship with a roster heavier on vets. Now all this drama and uncertainty. - Nick B.
Dear Nick, amen. That's why I think it's foolish to get too worked up over one trade or get too caught up in what happens in August. Who would've thought, even four months ago, that Kyrie Irving would request a trade? That's why I think it's important for teams to go "all in" for a title every season and not get hung up in thinking about the future, draft picks, assets, etc. You can't control tomorrow. Just win now.
So if the Knicks aren't including Carmelo Anthony in their billbaord ads, why is he still with the team? - Deven P.
Dear Deven, it all comes down to their inability to work out a trade with the Rockets. Maybe they think they can "squeeze him out," and that he will get so sick of the Knicks that he finally relents and waives his no-trade clause to go to another team. Quick analysis: It probably won't work.