In a span of a month, the Cavaliers have managed to do something that carried the air of impossibility as the last NBA year limped to a close. Cleveland has set up next season to be, blessedly, an interesting one.
Even as Golden State easily won this year’s NBA Finals, the running question throughout the five-game series was just how many times fans could be expected to get excited for a Warriors-Cavaliers championship matchup. A meeting of the two next June was all but inevitable, the only question being whether we’d get the same pairing in 2019, too.
The big picture is much more important for the Suns than any short-term concerns, though. Irving has two years left on his current contract (with a player option for 2019-20), he could end up as a very expensive rental. It has been reported Irving’s preferred destinations include San Antonio, New York, Miami and Minnesota. Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract, so the Cavs can hand him to the highest bidder, but the other 26 teams not on that list must realize there’s a strong chance Irving plays out the deal and then walks.
Imagine how the Suns would look if Irving bailed on that player option after two seasons. A star player is gone, a valuable first-round pick is gone and a potential franchise cornerstone is shining next to LeBron. That last possibility is the one that would really haunt Phoenix.
Jackson is the exact type of player NBA scouts salivate over. He’s a long, athletic wing with a high capacity to grow on offense as well as versatility and switchability on defense. He showed promise in Summer League, averaging 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games. While there are questions about his shot mechanics (42.5 percent from the field in those Summer League games), his skill, motor and impact in his one year at Kansas can’t be ignored, particularly on the defensive end. He even stacks up well against 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green coming out of college.