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After three innings for the final and a championship, Kyrie Irving decided that he no longer wanted to play alongside LeBron James in the summer of 2017.
At the time, Irving was only 25 years old, already a quadruple star player who averaged 25.2 points and 5.8 assists in 2016-2017, while sharing the ball with James and Kevin Love. He had two years left on a five-year, $ 80 million contract, which meant that his commercial value was quite high.
Before Cleveland finally distributed it to the Boston Celtics, the Cavs had another big offer on the table. The Milwaukee Bucks needed a second star to partner with Giannis Antetokounmpo and were ready to sell some of their young talent to do so.
ESPN Zach Lowe reported that the Bucks offered Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon to Cleveland for Irving, an agreement that would have changed the Eastern Conference for years to come.
Brogdon had just won the rookie of the year honors, but had yet to lead with an average of 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Indiana Pacers. While Middleton has been a star team in the past two seasons and averaged 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists in the past three years, he has accumulated only 14 , 7 points per game during the 2016-2017 season.
The two were considered good actors, but it wasn’t a solid enough offer for a budding superstar like Irving.
If Cleveland had done the trick, the Cavs’ lineup of Brogdon, Middleton, James, Love and Tristan Thompson would likely have stayed on top of the conference rather than the version that would eventually hit the # 4 seed before James never trains him. the finals. The Cavs would have had length, assists and defense throughout their starting lineup, the perfect makeup to defeat a Golden State Warriors team then led by Kevin Durant.
Perhaps with Middleton and Brogdon, James would have considered staying in Cleveland instead of leaving for the Los Angeles Lakers after watching the Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade collapse.
For Milwaukee, not concluding the deal was a disguised blessing. Irving would have had knee surgery and would miss the entire 2018 season, and the subject of his free agency in 2019 could have been a distraction for a Bucks team that had just established an excellent level of chemistry.
Milwaukee likely would not have been seeded No. 1 in the East in the past two years, and chances are Irving still left for his hometown of Brooklyn Nets, leaving the shadow of Antetokounmpo as he had left James before.
The Cavs could still be the best team in the East if the deal was made, and Milwaukee’s reign over the conference would never have started.