If that weren’t unhelpful enough…
League sources say that when James became convinced Irving couldn’t be persuaded to stay in Cleveland, he suggested to the Cavs front office that it deal Irving to the Blazers for All-Star point guard Damian Lillard. The Cavs never called the Blazers
Of course LeBron wanted Lillard. Lillard is very good, even better than Irving.
But that deal probably wouldn’t appeal to the Trail Blazers. Though Irving is younger and cheaper, Lillard is locked up two additional seasons. That greater team control is huge.
Perhaps, the Cavs could have bridged the gap in Irving’s and Lillard’s values by sending draft picks to and/or taking bad contracts from Portland. LeBron left Cleveland for the Lakers after last season, anyway. Long-term issues like lost picks and toxic contracts weren’t necessarily his problem. It’s more understandable the Cavaliers resisted.*
*However, a team with an all-time great like LeBron in his prime should have been more committed to winning a title last season than they were. Those opportunities come along only so often.
What makes this particularly interesting: The Lakers are trying to get another star. Does LeBron still want to play with Lillard? The Trail Blazers insist they’re keeping Lillard, and he has repeatedly said he wants to stay in Portland. But LeBron wanting Lillard in Los Angeles could be the seed that grows into something bigger.