Reports say the Pistons are interested in Kyrie Irving

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 09: Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with Kyrie Irving
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 09: Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with Kyrie Irving /

Reports came out Friday morning that the Detroit Pistons have interest in trading for Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If you have the Bleacher Report app on your phone, chances are you saw a notification pop up that the Detroit Pistons are interested in trying to trade for Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was thanks to a piece by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press on the topic.

As Vince notes in the piece, the Pistons’ interest is not especially notable. ESPN’s Adrian Wojarnowski recently noted, 20 teams have inquired about Irving’s services and six teams have made formal trade offers. While the Pistons are not one of the teams to have submitted an offer, it’s much more likely that they would be interested than not.

So if Kyrie is in demand, do the Pistons have a legitimate shot at getting him?

The Cavs are playing hard ball in any trade negotiations. They have all the leverage because Irving is under contract for the next two years, they’re likely heading to their fourth straight NBA Finals whether he and LeBron James hate each other or not, and they have no reason to panic and make a massive buy-low mistake of a trade like the Indiana Pacers did with Paul George.

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Cleveland will likely seek a high-level starter, a good young player and a future draft pick at a minimum. The Pistons only have one such starter who fits that description, and that’s Andre Drummond, whose luster wore off significantly last season. The Cavs also have a center of their own in Tristan Thompson, who is a more modernized big man who fits their roster significantly better. A deal involving, say, Drummond, Stanley Johnson and a first round draft pick might not be too enticing to the Cleveland Cavaliers from a talent perspective.

In addition, this duo (plus a pick) being traded to the Cavs wouldn’t work from a salary perspective. The Cavs would have to throw in another piece, and if they ended up taking back more salary than they send out it would be prohibitively expensive. Due to the depth of luxury tax hell they are in, every dollar in additional salary they take on costs $4.75 in tax penalties.

The fake trade piece ESPN put out a week ago, involving the Pistons getting Kyrie and Thompson, Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Jordan going to the Cavs, and Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson (and a first round pick) going to the Los Angeles Clippers would have added $3.3 million to the Cavs’ books. That might seem like a menial amount, but that additional salary would bring with it $15.75 million in tax penalties in addition to the added salary. This deal would make them worse on the floor and it would cost them a touch over $19 million to do it.

Next: Playoffs or bust for Pistons in 2018

There may be a path for the Detroit Pistons to acquire Kyrie Irving, but it’s not a favorable path for the Cavs. Compared to what 20 other teams can offer (and what six other teams already have offered), it’s hard to picture a scenario where the Pistons come away with Kyrie.