Armed with Dennis Smith Jr. as the potential steal of the draft, should the Dallas Mavericks try to trade him for Kyrie Irving?
*Disclaimer: This is a two-part series of speculation based off the ESPN Report that Kyrie Irving has requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. I am arguing for the trade in this piece while arguing against the trade in the second part.
Imagine it is a week before the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Dallas Mavericks have the 9th overall pick in a draft that is loaded throughout the lottery. It’s the first time in 20 years that Dallas is selecting inside the top ten.
Trade calls start coming in as teams across the league try to get into the top ten. Let’s say Phoenix calls offering Eric Bledsoe for the 9th pick straight up (something fans in Dallas actually debated on before the draft).
Dallas decides to pass on Bledsoe as it would take a really good, young player for Dallas to give up their pick.
Then Cleveland calls offering Kyrie Irving for the 9th overall pick.
Dallas immediately takes the deal and the rest is history.
Now, come back to real life and the Dallas Mavericks have Dennis Smith Jr. and some people think it would be insane to trade Smith Jr. for Kyrie Irving.
Basically, six games of Summer League ball in Las Vegas for Dennis Smith Jr. would justify not trading him for Kyrie Irving.
Let that sink in.
I get it. Dennis Smith Jr. is a 19-year-old with a 48 inch vertical. He has arguably the quickest first step off the dribble in the whole draft class and “could” be the steal of the draft. He tore his ACL in high school and had a rough season at N.C. state during his only year in college.
He came into the Vegas Summer League where he averaged over 17 points a game over the course of SIX games.
Can he be the next face of the franchise? Can he be the leader of an NBA team at the point guard position? Can he defend despite his stature? Can he lead the Dallas Mavericks back to the finals? Can he win the Rookie of the Year Award? Can he continue to stay healthy after his torn ACL?
These are all questions that the majority of Dallas believes will be answered in a positive way, but the fact is, nobody can predict the future. Nobody knows if he will be a draft steal or bust.
You know exactly what you are getting in Kyrie Irving.
Irving is considered by many to be a top 20 player in the game today. He was the number one overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and won the ROY award that next season. He was the 2013-14 All-Star Game MVP and was an All-NBA player in 2015. In 2016, he hit one of the most clutch shots in the NBA Finals as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors.
He has also been named an All-Star in four of his six seasons in the league.
In his first six seasons in the NBA, Irving has averaged over 18 points a game in each of his six seasons. Last year, he averaged just over 25 points a game including four 40 point games. He’s a top 20 player in the league and arguably a top five scorer in the league.
Oh, he’s still just 25 years old.
If Dallas completed such a deal without giving up another significant piece, they would be moving forward with a core of Irving (25), Barnes (25), Curry (26) and Noel (23).
Financially, Irving is under contract for the next two years with a player option on the third year. Considering some of the other contracts around the league, having Irving at $18.8 million next year and $20 million the next, is a straight bargain.
Then factor in the possibility of Noel signing for around $15-18 million a year and Dallas has a solid young core with some financial flexibility to build around them. If you could lock in a core of Irving, Noel and Barnes for under $60 million a year, that would leave you with roughly $40 million in cap space to work with.
Plus, who wouldn’t like another playoff run in Dirk’s last year or two in the league?
So what would a Dallas offer look like?
I would assume Cleveland would want a package back that appeals both to the future AND the present in helping LeBron James get back to the Finals. With that being said, this would be my offer.
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Dallas Receives: Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert
Cleveland Receives: Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris and a future first
Dallas would get their star in Irving to pair with Barnes, Noel, Nowitzki, and Curry in the starting unit with Ferrell, Finney-Smith, Shumpert and Mejri off the bench. You give up a first, but you have to think it would be worth it for a player like Irving.
Cleveland gets their blue chip asset in Dennis Smith Jr., plus the elite defensive wing defender and knock down perimeter shooter they have coveted in the veteran Matthews. Harris would be a solid addition to their bench unit both offensively and defensively.
You don’t see 25-year-old All Stars in the league hit the trade market often. Dennis Smith Jr. could be great in the league today, but “could” should be the word that would make you pull the trigger on a deal like this.
Kyrie Irving is already great.