The Cleveland Cavaliers have a tough road ahead, with a huge Kyrie Irving trade to sort through and LeBron James' uncertain future to keep in mind.
When reports first trickled out that Kyrie had requested a trade off of the Cavaliers, a list of preferred destinations came attached. The San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves were the teams Irving reportedly had at the top of his wish list.
The Cavaliers have no real incentive to grant Kyrie his trade wish, especially with Irving under contract for at least two full seasons. Still, it's easier to make that kind of trade when a team knows the star player wants to be there. That's why the Oklahoma City Thunder paid pennies on the dollar to roll the dice on Paul George. Uncertainty of his future diminished the price of acquiring him.
Cleveland has a tough decision to make with Kyrie. Finding a trade partner won't be hard, but finding the right one with the right package is a massive challenge. The Cavaliers have been focused on acquiring a young, high-potential star as Irving's replacement, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Players like Kristaps Porzingis and Josh Jackson pique the Cavaliers interest, potentially providing them with a young stud of a player to build around. That's become more important as the Cavaliers read LeBron's lack of commitment to the franchise going forward.
Count the Spurs in as one of the (many) teams interested in trading for Irving, according to Wojnarowski. San Antonio would be keen on adding the 25-year-old four-time NBA All-Star to their team, giving Kawhi Leonard a young partner to grow a new Spurs dynasty with.
Even better for the Spurs, Irving is willing to sign a contract extension to stay long-term in San Antonio, reports Wojnarowski. That's the kind of situation that seems ripe for a trade, but the Spurs have a major road block. The Cavaliers want young stars, and the Spurs lack the pieces to get it done.
This circles back to the uncertainty of LeBron's future with the franchise. James can leave Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the Cavaliers are looking ahead preemptively to prepare for a future without both LeBron and Kyrie.
That makes players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker less-desirable to Cleveland. If the Cavaliers felt comfortable LeBron was staying, a package from San Antonio might make some sense as Cleveland re-stacks its roster with top veteran talent.
Instead, the kind of package the Spurs can offer the Cavaliers doesn't look very appealing, even if San Antonio can comfortably trade pieces away with Irving willing to commit long-term. Cleveland is clearly in a tough spot, but they still have plenty of time to sort through a huge decision.