Immediately following the Boston Celtics’ 117-108 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Kyrie Irving made headlines by revealing he made an apologetic phone call to Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Irving, who was traded at his request by the Cavaliers prior to the 2017-18 season, apologized to his former teammate for his immaturity. Joined by Kevin Love, the talented trio competed for three-straight NBA Championships and secured one title over the Golden State Warriors. With their relationship seemingly on the mend, could Irving and LeBron join forces again with the Lakers?
Irving’s contract situation and the Lakers’ cap flexibility combine to make it a feasible move if there is interest from both parties. At the conclusion of this season, Irving can decline his player option for the following year. By passing on his $21.3 million option, the former Duke standout would hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. Still only 26 years old, Irving would land in Los Angeles for his prime as LeBron transitions to the twilight of his career.
Why a Reunion Between Irving and LeBron Makes Sense
It is obvious that LeBron thrives when he is surrounded by potent shooters. While Lonzo Ball has considerable potential at guard, his ability to efficiently space the floor doesn’t compare to Irving’s three-point percentage. In four of his last five seasons, Irving has reached the 40-percent threshold from beyond the arc. LeBron is a dynamic force with the ball in his hands, but he will likely need more space as he ages. If Irving rejoins his former teammate, he would consistently relieve LeBron of excess pressure by capturing the attention of opposing defenses.
Outside of Irving’s fit on the court, it is possible that the bright lights of Hollywood could influence his decision. Irving starred in Uncle Drew and it is likely that he has the urge to pursue more opportunities on the big screen. With Space Jam 2 already in the works, Irving could easily join LeBron on the screen as well as on the court.
Magic Johnson’s pursuit of a second star to play next to LeBron is hardly a secret. Despite this summer’s list of high-profile potential free agents, Los Angeles is far from a lock to secure the services of players like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard. If the Lakers decide to renounce the rights of their own free agents, they will enter the summer with only $67.2 million in committed salary. Banking on a rekindled relationship between Irving and LeBron is an investment worthy of Johnson’s attention.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Hints at Irving Joining the Lakers
On Thursday’s edition of First Take, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith entertained the idea of Irving joining LeBron in Los Angeles. Smith revealed that he received a text message from an undisclosed source regarding Irving’s willingness to reach out to LeBron for reconciliation. According to Smith’s anonymous source, Irving’s path to L.A. just became easier.
Irving is in the middle of his eighth season in the NBA. Prior to the 2017-18 season, LeBron and Irving played alongside each other for three years in Cleveland.