If team owner Dan Gilbert is convinced that LeBron James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018, he may trade point guard Kyrie Irving to make life harder for the superstar next season. According to Matt Burke of metro.us, the relationship between Gilbert and James is getting worse after the Cleveland front office did not give a fresh contract to general manager David Griffin, the architect of the Cavaliers’ championship two seasons ago.

Burke said Gilbert is planning to promote assistant general manager Koby Altman to Griffin’s post. Altman may then be forced to trade Irving to a different team to punish James one year before he can leave the Cavaliers.

Griffin worked as the Cavs’ general manager for three years, turning the team into instant contenders and leading them to their first title in 2016.

The 25-year-old Irving has three years remaining on his five-year, $90 million contract extension that he signed with the Cavs before the 2014-15 season. James, for his part, reportedly wants to decline the player option in his contract next season and join the Los Angeles Lakers.

Griffin didn’t want to trade Irving

There were reports that Griffin didn’t want to trade Irving but Gilbert wanted to use the point guard as a pawn to acquire Paul George from the Indiana Pacers. It was earlier reported that the Cavaliers were negotiating with the Utah Jazz and the Pacers for a potential 3-team trade.

That trade would ship George and Jazz point guard George Hill to the Cavaliers, while Irving would join the Jazz, who would have provided the Pacers with top picks. However, the trade did not materialize and George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Before he was let go, Griffin was deep into negotiations with the Pacers and the Chicago Bulls for George and Jimmy Butler, respectively.

The Cavaliers met with former NBA point guard Chauncey Billups to discuss taking over the post of vice president of basketball operations but the latter pulled out after he was reportedly low-balled by Cleveland in contract negotiations.

Irving to be traded to Spurs, Heat?

Earlier, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Irving told some of his former Team USA teammates that he will ask for a trade if James leaves the team in 2018.

Cowley also mentioned that Irving is interested in donning a Bulls uniform.

However, Irving may not ask for it as Gilbert might pull the trade trigger anytime. Recently, Gilbert reportedly tried to trade Irving to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe. Burke said Gilbert may trade Irving for LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs or to the Miami Heat for young assets, including Justise Winslow.