The Miami Heat is reportedly one of more than 20 teams that have inquired about acquiring disgruntled Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. ESPN reports Pat Riley and the Heat are willing to send Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow to Cleveland in exchange for Irving. Not all Heat fans are thrilled by the thought of breaking up an overachieving Miami Heat team poised to run it back in 2017, though.
Some fans doubt Irving is the answer, while others are unwilling to part with Winslow because they hope next season is the breakout everyone has been waiting for from him. The fan base seems pretty split down the middle on the prospects of making a deal with LeBron James' team.
Any doubts about the Heat acquiring Irving are shortsighted, though. He is the sort of player around which championship teams are built. If the Heat can acquire the former 2011 first overall pick, the team should jump at the opportunity and scrap any current plans. A team built around Irving's strengths has a far higher ceiling for a much longer window than the current team the Heat has assembled.
In a vacuum, swapping point guards with the Cavs is a slam-dunk deal: Irving is a special talent, and though it seems like he's been in the NBA for ten years, he's still only 25. Even though Dragic doesn't show any signs of slowing, he is on the wrong side of 30 in a league that has proven to slowly but surely swallow the abilities of 30-somethings.
Acquiring Irving makes sense for both the now and the future: Not only is he young, but also he has locked up on a long-term contract that will seem like a bargain moving forward. Irving signed a five-year, $94 million contract that lines up exactly with the five-year, $85-million deal Dragic signed in 2015. Both players won't be free agents until after the 2019-20 season. Both deals are considered absolute bargains. The difference? Irving won't even be 30 years old when his deal is up, while Dragic will be pushing 35. Irving is already championship battle-tested. Dragic has only a handful of playoff wins on his resumé.
Giving up on Winslow would be the price of doing business here. When you acquire a player of Irving's talent, you have to give up something else. Riley gave up Caron Butler for Shaq. Winslow has been a disappointment so far in his career. For all of his defensive strengths, he has equal offensive weaknesses. He's barely old enough to drink, though, so the jury is still out on whether he can live up to the hype that saw the Heat pass up a huge offer from the Boston Celtics on draft night for him.
The Heat likely won't compete for a title in 2017-18 — that's just the reality. Nabbing Irving could start a new era of Heat basketball when fans again expect their team to play for a championship every year.