azcentral sports’ Jay Dieffenbach and Dan Bickley discuss the latest on Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and the ramifications it could hold for Phoenix.
As the Kyrie Irving story continues to percolate, two interesting developments have surfaced the past few days.
First, ESPN reported that the Suns are one of six teams that have made an offer for Irving. The others: San Antonio, the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota, the New York Knicks and Miami. Remember, the Spurs, Timberwolves, Knicks and Heat reportedly are the four teams for which Irving wants to play.
Second, longtime Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto wrote Wednesday that he’s been told Irving, who has two years left on his current contract, will not commit to a long-term contract extension with any team that acquires him.
Let’s examine those two items from the Suns’ perspective.
It’s not surprising that the Suns reportedly have made an offer to the Cavaliers. They have a point guard, Eric Bledsoe, who is close friends with LeBron James and recently told azcentral sports that he loves the Valley but, “at the same time I want to win.”
Phoenix has other assets, including young, skilled players and two future first-round picks from Miami. The first, in 2018, is protected from No. 1-7. If Miami’s pick lands in the top seven, the pick goes to 2019 and becomes unprotected. The second Miami first-rounder is in 2021 and is unprotected.
The question is, how many of those assets would the Suns be willing to give up without assurances from Irving that he’ll be in Phoenix for more than two years?
Irving’s apparent desire to test the market likely wouldn’t have an impact on the Suns’ willingness to include Bledsoe in any deal. Bledsoe also has two years left on his contract. It’s the other assets that likely will be the discussion points for General Manager Ryan McDonough.
The Suns reportedly have refused to include recent first-round pick Josh Jackson in an Irving trade. But would Phoenix be willing to deal any of its other young assets — Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren, etc. — or from its treasure trove of first-round picks knowing that Irving may leave after two seasons?
Think about it: The Suns aren’t built to contend for a title this season or, in all probability, in 2018-19. Owner Robert Sarver recently laid out the timeline, telling azcentral sports that, “They’re not going to win a championship at 19, 20 or 21 years old but I think we can lay a foundation. I’m willing to sacrifice the losses and do whatever we have to do.”
So, the conundrum for Sarver and McDonough: Is having Irving for two seasons worth the risk of losing him just as the team’s young core is ready to contend?