Monday, July 31, 2017

Three Words: Bug Off Irving

Ever since July 21 the shocked, rhetorical question, "Who wouldn't want to play with LeBron James?" has been asked. Only, it seems, Kyrie Irving.

To my knowledge, this serious, non-rhetorical mirror question has not been asked: "Who would want to play with Kryie Irving now? Only, it seems, Justise Winslow.

Not Dion Waiters! He had the pleasure, in Lake Mistake, and the two hardly ever passed each other the ball.

The question of who wants to play with Irving, and which team would want to try to incorporate him into its roster is a critically important one, it seems to me, for those teams making or contemplating making offers for Irving. For none is that question more important than Miami.

Kyrie Irving is not a "whale," he is not a superstar. And Miami is Team Happy right now. Pat Riley has kept the band that went 30-11 over the last half of last season together. I have never seen Riley so giddy about a set of players. He truly loves those guys is my distinct impression. Is Riley really going to break up the "7/11" combination of Dragic/Waiters and jeopardize all of the progress Waiters made by throwing him again together with Irving so that Irving again never throws Waiters the ball? That is immediately inserting the Irrationally Unhappy Man into the Irrationally Happy Team. Do not do that. Is Riley really going to include in a trade for Irving Wayne Ellington, the man Riley said it would "kill" him if he had lost to free agency?

Ira Winderman, the respected and longest-tenured Miami beat writer, has suggested more than once that Pat Riley is being blinded by irrational exuberance over Team Happy. I completely understand that sentiment and the smaller part of me darkly thinks he might be correct. The larger part of me however sees a unique--Not too strong a word, this Miami "Heat" team is the happiest in professional sports, the happiest pro team I have ever seen--team, happy and successful. And we have a rational sample size--Half an NBA season--of exuberant success and to see after another half a season if Riley's exuberance is irrational or rational. And we have a player for whom it is in no wise rational to break up Team Happy and its success. Irving is not Alonzo Mourning. Irving is not Shaquille O'Neill. Not LeBron James, not Kevin Durant. Irving is a very good offensive player, a ball-hog scoring machine and defensive liability who has tweety birds flying around his flat head. He is not the Miami "Heat" type. Do not do it, Pat Riley.