Milwaukee Bucks: The case for going after Kyrie Irving

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Kyrie Irving /

The Milwaukee Bucks have stood in place for long enough. It’s time to chase Kyrie Irving.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece that does not reflect the views of Behind the Buck Pass as a site, or contain any original reporting. Although the Bucks have been linked to Kyrie in theoretical trades, there’s been no report of any real trade talks between Milwaukee and Cleveland as of July 25.

The Milwaukee Bucks very purposefully pivoted away from their old slogan, “Own the Future”, over the past year, instead going with the classic “Fear the Deer.” That’s all just talk, though, unless the Bucks front office actually, you know, makes moves to allow the team to win now.

Aside from watching the rest of the Eastern Conference collapse like a house of cards in a typhoon, the Bucks haven’t done much to that end this summer. Tony Snell was re-signed and D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown were drafted, while former Bucks GM John Hammond and much of his front office staff left, only to be replaced by Jon Horst.

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That’s the entire Bucks’ offseason summed up in a sentence. There have been two-way deals signed too, but as far as moves concerning the everyday NBA roster, there has not been much change.

Thanks to the financial situation the team has been in, there truthfully weren’t many options, especially in free agency. The trade market has been popping off though, and it’s unfortunate that Milwaukee has failed to get involved in any of the negotiations the summer has seen.

The Bucks had the juice to match offers that ended up in the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder getting Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Not trading for PG-13, who is likely to walk after a year, might have been smart.

Missing on Butler, though, hurts. A good draft pick, a bad rookie point guard and a promising young guy with injury problems resulted in the Timberwolves adding one of the best players in the entire league, with two years left on his contract. Milwaukee may not have a top ten pick, but the Bucks have all of their own picks plus a glut of young, interesting players.

Yes, someone like Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, or Thon Maker would have to go in a trade for a star. That’s the price of doing business. Maybe more than one of those somebodies would have to go, honestly.

The Bucks seemed to have waited out any chance to add an exciting, true star player to their roster, until news broke that Kyrie Irving had demanded a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though Milwaukee has been silent in major trade talks all summer long, ESPN’s Zach Lowe still included some hypothetical trades between the Bucks and Cavs in his column on the Kyrie news.

Lowe’s trade idea was Middleton, Brogdon, and two picks for Kyrie. On the most recent Lowe Post podcast, Brian Windhorst suggested throwing in Iman Shumpert on the Cleveland side of things and John Henson on the Milwaukee side, additions that certainly must’ve interested Bucks fans sick of Henson’s cap hit.

Is that a lot to give up, for the Bucks, in a trade? Of course it is. We’re talking about getting Kyrie Freaking IrvingThere is a delusional section of NBA Twitter that thinks Kyrie, not LeBron James, was the best player during the 2016 NBA Finals.

Even if King James was better, and is better, Kyrie Irving is still a great player, and a young one at age 25. Milwaukee, depending on how Jabari Parker develops, has no second star. Khris Middleton is good, and he might sneak on to a horrible Eastern Conference All-Star team, but he hasn’t shown that he’s a star player in this league.

Kyrie has. He carried the Cavs in games when LeBron struggled, and more intriguingly sometimes combined with LeBron to form the most devastating two-man combo seen in some time, until Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry linked up.

The Bucks’ projected starting five, once Jabari Parker returns from his injury, would be incredible. Kyrie, Snell, Jabari, Giannis, and Thon would start, with Greg Monroe, Matthew Dellavedova, and potentially Shumpert on the bench.

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That Bucks team would contend for a top seed right away. Kyrie wouldn’t have his own team, not with the Greek Freak in town, but the two of them could form more of a partnership than Irving’s current relationship with LeBron, which makes it seem as though Kyrie swims in LeBron’s wake at times.

There is lots of risk involved here, as there is with any big trade. Kyrie could leave in two years, although Milwaukee would be able to pay him more than any other team, even without the option of offering the designated veteran player exception because of the trade taking place. The Bucks would have Irving’s bird rights regardless of that.

Some risk is involved in winning a title. That’s just the way things go. With Giannis’ future already a topic of constant conversation, it’s time for the Bucks to take a shot and show him that this franchise is not content with being a fifth seed for the next few years.

Next: How much better can Giannis get?

It’s time to go out and see about trading for Kyrie Irving. If the asking price ends up being too much, so be it. But if Kyrie really is available, and the Bucks have the juice to get him, that could be the move that makes Milwaukee a title contender.