Richard Jefferson: Kyrie Irving in search of ‘some sort of stability’

MIAMI — A lot of reports have Kyrie Irving asking for a trade because he no longer wants to play alongside LeBron James.

But Cavaliers teammate Richard Jefferson believes there’s a different reason behind Irving’s trade request. Instead, Jefferson sees it as part of Irving’s search for a more stable situation.

Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the first half against the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old point guard has spent the first six seasons of his NBA career with the Cavaliers and he’s already playing for his fourth head coach in Tyronn Lue. Cleveland has also had three different general managers during this stretch, with Koby Altman officially named the team’s new GM on Monday.

“I think Kyrie is a hyper-intelligent kid,” Jefferson said on the latest episode of his “Road Trippin'” podcast, released Monday. “Really, really smart. Doesn’t get enough credit for how smart he is, and I think seeing that the franchise is in flux, I think seeing [David Griffin] leave and the amount of coaches … I think Kyrie has had a much tougher time in this stretch of the organization than anyone ever wants to ever really fully [recognize].

“He’s the No. 1 pick right after LeBron [left for Miami in 2010], then he has three different coaches, then LeBron comes back, now there’s trade rumors, now it’s ‘LeBron’s leaving.’ It’s like at some point in time, anybody would want some sort of stability.”

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That’s probably one of the reasons the Heat are one of Irving’s preferred landing spots, with the Knicks, Spurs and Timberwolves reportedly also on that list.

Miami is known as one of the NBA’s most stable franchises, as Erik Spoelstra is the second-longest active tenured head coach with one team behind just San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich. Spoelstra has been the Heat’s head coach for the past nine seasons and received a contract extension last summer.

In addition, Heat president Pat Riley has been with the organization since 1995 and general manager Andy Elisburg is a Heat original as he joined the franchise in its inaugural 1988 season.

Regarding reports that Irving asked Cleveland to trade him because he’s tired of playing as James’ sidekick, Jefferson doesn’t believe that’s true.

“I don’t think that there’s a power struggle, like with LeBron and Kyrie and [Kevin Love],” said Jefferson, whose podcast is part of James’ “Uninterrupted” multimedia platform.

“I think Kyrie knows how important he is to our team. LeBron knows how important he is. He has been on this podcast. They have been on this podcast together multiple times together where ‘Bron was like, ‘Dude, this is my guy, I need him. He is so important to me, my kids love him.’ And again, just like any family there are ups and downs, there are moments that you hate them, moments that you love them, and then you just kind of keep it moving.”

While there has been external discussion about the Heat trading for Irving since they are on his list of preferred destinations, there has been no indication whether Miami is actually interested in dealing for the disgruntled four-time All-Star.

The list of assets the Heat can offer the Cavaliers to bring Irving to Miami is limited.

Free agents signed this summer can’t be traded until Dec. 15 at the earliest. So the Heat can’t include James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, Udonis Haslem, Matt Williams or Derrick Walton Jr. in an offseason deal for Irving.

In addition, draft picks become eligible to be traded 30 days after signing. First-round pick Bam Adebayo signed his contract with the Heat on July 1, which means he’s off the table for now, too.

This leaves Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, Okaro White and A.J. Hammons as the only Heat players who can be traded right now. All of this means that a trade package to land Irving would likely need to be centered around Dragic or Whiteside.

As far as draft picks, the Heat don’t have much to trade in that department. Miami doesn’t own both of its picks in a draft until 2022.

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