CLEVELAND — The word is out around the NBA. The Cavaliers want a veteran starter, a blue chipper on a rookie contract, and a first-round pick for Kyrie Irving. The Cavs are working diligently to make Irving happy (he wants to be traded) and get what they want for him in return. They’ve been in contact consistently with Irving’s camp as they field calls and offers from interested suitors, trying to cultivate an offer that makes sense. Among the scenarios under consideration, LeBron James worked out with a number of stars in Las Vegas this past week, among them Eric Bledsoe, the Phoenix Suns guard who’s been linked to numerous rumors as a possible target in a trade for Irving. Bledsoe is 27, never been an All-Star, and has endured three knee surgeries. But he is coming off the best of his seven seasons, averaging 21.1 points and 6.3 assists for the Suns and is a better defender than Irving (who has superior ball skills). It’s easy to brush off James’ workouts with Bledsoe — Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul were also there and James and Bledsoe share an agent — but Bledsoe would fit one of the Cavs’ requirements. The Suns also own Miami’s first-round pick, which is partially protected in 2018. That’d be the second box checked. Cleveland also wants Josh Jackson, a 6-8 rookie drafted fourth overall by the Suns in June. Phoenix reportedly doesn’t want to trade Jackson, and a source said the Suns told Devin Booker he would not be traded — which would seem to put a serious hamper in this potential trade. “If that deal (Bledsoe, Miami first rounder and Jackson) for Irving was there, it’d be done by now,” a league source with knowledge of the Cavs’ thinking told cleveland.com. The deal would be agreed to, perhaps, but not officially done. As a rookie, Jackson cannot be traded for 30 days after signing his contract — which he put his name to on July 3. That means the Suns couldn’t deal Jackson to anyone until later this week. The Cavs-Suns potential trade is just one being bandied about on talk shows and the Internet, as the basketball world dines on the delicious, offseason rumor meal of Irving wanting out and Cleveland trying to make it happen. The general manager attempting to make the trade on the Cavs’ side is new, 34-year-old Koby Altman. If it were his predecessor, David Griffin, orchestrating the trade, history tells us what the Cavs would ultimately end up with would be something almost no one saw coming. Perhaps that same history can be used as a guide to envision what kind of haul Altman ultimately pulls for Irving. “In terms of David Griffin, the biggest testament to him is he’s got us all ready for this,” Altman said Wednesday. “He was a tremendous leader for us and that’s what he did. That’s the best testament to him is he has all of us ready for this challenge.” Griffin, who departed from the Cavs June 19, left behind Altman, Mike Gansey (now the assistant GM), and Brock Aller (now senior director of basketball operations) as three men who worked in Griffin’s front office and are now running the show here. Trades can be complicated things in the NBA. What looks to us like one trade can often count as multiple transactions within the same deal as GMs like Griffin deftly navigated the league’s collective bargaining agreement to get the best returns. Taking the above caveat into consideration, Griffin essentially made four roster-changing, crucial deals in his three seasons as GM — each of which ended in the Finals. One was trading Andrew Wiggins (now a rumored target of the Cavs for Irving) to Minnesota for Kevin Love — that one was the exception to Griffin’s rule of multiplicity and general secrecy. The other three fit. In January of 2015, with the Cavs scuffling, Anderson Varejao out for the season and coach David Blatt flailing, Griffin knew he needed to deal. The Cavs’ interest in Timofey Mozgov in Denver was well known, but before Griffin could acquire him he first pulled off a three-team blockbuster cheap jerseys in which Dion Waiters was shipped to Oklahoma City and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert came to Cleveland from the Knicks. Smith was the surprise in the deal because of his off-court issues, but in the meantime Griffin needed the first-round pick the Cavs received from Oklahoma City for Waiters to package in a deal with Denver for Mozgov. The following season, with the Cavs wanting to spread the floor when they went to their bench, Griffin with little prior fanfare traded with Orlando for Channing Frye. Cleveland could’ve had Frye straight up, but also wanted to move salary so it roped Portland into the deal, convincing the Blazers to take Anderson Varejao’s contract in return for a first-round pick. The Blazers sent a second rounder to the Magic. Last season, of course, with Smith out for three months because of a broken thumb and free-agent signee Mike Dunleavy not panning out, Griffin’s front office stunned the league by acquiring one of the greatest 3-point shooters in league history — Kyle Korver — in exchange for Dunleavy, the expiring contract of Mo Williams, a first-round pick, and cash. It is from that kind of depth which Altman may be operating as he attempts to move Irving. He may try to attach the expiring contract of Frye ($7.4 million) as well as Shumpert’s contract (two years, $21.3 million) to Irving-related moves. He could seek to use what he receives from one team for Irving to acquire a whole new set of assets from a third team. That’s what Griffin would’ve done. And it’s Griffin from whom Altman learned his craft.
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