Two contending teams, each having lost to the same unstoppable team in the playoffs on the way to its second championship in three seasons, and both have their second-best player coming to them in July asking for a trade. Any guess as to which two teams we’re talking about?
If you guessed the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers, you are correct. Both teams had to find a way to deal with their second star’s unhappiness last summer, in this case LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyrie Irving. We all know how things went down here: Aldridge asked for a trade, ended up working things out Gregg Popovich, and signed an extension to the surprise of many.
On the other end, Irving got his wish and was traded to the Boston Celtics, but how both organizations dealt with their respective ordeal tell a story of how different these teams really are. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote:
There weren’t exit meetings with coach Ty Lue or management after the season either; the Cavs elected to skip them after a taxing playoff run. They wanted a cooling-off period. But the result was no chance to try to break down walls. As Popovich was looking in the mirror and getting Aldridge to reconsider, Irving was having conversations with friends and advisers on how to execute the breakup.
Execute it he did, much to the chagrin of LeBron James. While neither team is on completely stable ground at the moment, the Spurs are much better off thanks to better management and much more personable leaders up top. This summer wasn’t exactly a shining beacon for the Spurs, but it was one of many lessons that they and others can learn from, including the Cavs.
It’s an excellent read, especially if you’re in search of some good Spurs news, so I suggest you read the whole thing.