When Kyrie Irving requested a trade last summer – which would take him from the Cavaliers to the Celtics – the Spurs were reportedly among his preferred destinations. In fact, according to one report, San Antonio was his top choice.
But lots of teams proposed Irving trades. Some of them were surely lowball offers.
How seriously were the Spurs about trading for Irving?
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
San Antonio tried really, really hard to make a trade for him. And that was the initial goal, to play for Pop. It wasn’t about big market.
I’m not sure how close the Spurs could have come to landing Irving. They had only one elite asset – Kawhi Leonard, whom they weren’t trading. Their next-best player, LaMarcus Aldridge, would have created a logjam with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
Perhaps, San Antonio sought a three-team trade. That always makes a deal more complex and therefore less likely to happen, but the Spurs could have tried hard to complete one.
It would have been fascinating to see Irving – who can be high-maintenance – play under Gregg Popovich. It’d also be interesting to hear why the Spurs believed Irving would fit. Irving being the rare young star to become available would be enough for most teams, but in San Antonio – where an especially high premium is placed on culture – that alone wouldn’t have been enough.
Maybe it would have worked seamlessly. Irving is fitting in well in Boston. But whether he would have meshed with the Spurs is a fun “what if?”.