A report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Monday, stating that Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are at an impasse regarding contract negotiations for next year, has brought NBA Twitter to a frenzy. Among the names being floated around as potential suitors for the multi-time All-Star? The Los Angeles Clippers.
In this mini-series, Clips Nation will take a look at why the Clippers should or shouldn’t pursue Kyrie Irving, should he become available. First up, here’s three reasons why Los Angeles could benefit from the acquisition:
1) Kyrie Irving is very good at basketball.
In fact, I’d venture to say that he is one of the most skilled players to ever touch a basketball. His resume is undeniable, his highlights are mesmerizing. There is no question as to whether or not the addition of Kyrie Irving would raise the cumulative basketball talent on the Clippers’ roster. It would. And, depending on how cheap Irving’s stock is right now, it would do so by quite a large margin.
Irving is a player who has performed at the highest level, turned in masterful performances and hit clutch shots on the very stage the Clippers hope to be on next year: the NBA Finals. There are only a handful of players in the league who can completely take over a game. If the Clippers were to acquire Irving, they would possess three such players.
And while Irving’s off-the-court antics heightens the risk involved, if the Clippers can pull off a trade that doesn’t include parting with any of their major pieces — i.e. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Norman Powell — the on-court reward heavily outweighs the potential off-court risk, in my opinion.
2) This is a good opportunity to consolidate talent.
Especially considering the wealth of talent that the Clippers currently have on their roster. Playoff rotations are usually only eight or nine players deep, while the Clippers ended last season with 11 quality playoff rotation players on their roster. If, in the playoffs, it comes down to each teams’ best eight guys, what’s the point in stashing a talented 10th or 11th man?
If the Clippers manage to retain Isaiah Hartenstein, they could trade away a package resembling a Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr., and Terance Mann or Brandon Boston Jr. (it would break my heart, but I’d do it) for Irving, and still walk away with a tight playoff rotation of Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, and Isaiah Hartenstein.
At least on paper, that rotation is as talented as any I’ve seen.
3) Irving could provide some injury insurance for the Clippers’ stars.
The Clippers have staked their futures to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, two players who, while healthy, absolutely dominate on both sides of the court. They are also, however, two players who have struggled to stay healthy. Through the last three seasons since they’ve joined Los Angeles, they’ve combined to play 242 out of 452 possible regular season games.
In case one of either Leonard or George is unable to finish this year healthy, a team led by the tandem of George and Irving, or Leonard and Irving, has a much higher chance of lifting up the Larry O’B at the end of the season than a team led by George or Leonard by themselves.
My last exhibit for consideration — the most efficient 50-point game in NBA history (in which Irving registered a 103.8% True Shooting percentage):
If any coach and coaching staff can coax it out of him, it’s Ty Lue and the Clippers. He knows exactly what Irving can do, and it seems that Irving appreciates Lue’s coaching abilities, as well. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both in their thirties, and as the indispensable, international scout Stanley Sugarman puts it, “Basketball years are like dog years; if we’re going to do it, we actually got to do this now.”
The Clippers already have a very good team. With Kyrie in tow, they could have a historic one. Whether or not a suitable move actually formulates is up to Los Angeles’ world class front office. And I, as a fan myself, will trust whatever decision they ultimately land on.
In my opinion, however, the inquiries must be made, the due diligence must be done. And if it does happen, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kyrie Irving in a Clippers jersey next year.