The Los Angeles Lakers may have a bit of a helping hand on the free agency recruiting front in the form of Kobe Bryant. While it’s unknown exactly what Bryant is saying and exactly which top-tier free agents he’s talked with, it appears one name he’s been in contact with is Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
During the latest episode of the ‘Stephen A. Smith Show,’ the ESPN analyst says the Black Mamba has been talking with Irving. He proceeds to state that while he didn’t previously believe Kyrie would join the Lakers, that he’s hearing otherwise now.
“Kobe’s been talking to Kyrie. Obviously, you know Kyrie and Kobe are very close. Kobe’s been talking to Kyrie. We don’t know whether or not Kyrie was considering the Lakers, although I’ve been told by folks close to Kyrie ain’t no way in hell he’s going to the Lakers to join LeBron. But I’m being told don’t rule that out [now].” Smith stated.
It’s obviously unknown whether Bryant is putting on the full-blown recruiting hat, or just staying in contact with Kyrie. Regardless, it has to pull some weight to have one of the greatest Lakers in history in your ear just prior to free agency.
This is fairly eye-opening news, especially when you consider the fact that it recently came to light that Irving was going to be one of Magic Johnson’s top free agent targets this offseason.
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Lakers Were Set to Target Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard in Free Agency
Although it’s unknown whether the Lakers plans have changed since Magic resigned, Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times revealed his two max free agent targets. Surprisingly, one of them was not Kevin Durant, as Markazi reports that Johnson was set to pursue Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
There have been rumblings from both sides when it comes to Irving and his interest in the Lakers. But as time rolls on, it begins to seem more and more likely that the Celtics star could have a real interest in teaming back up with LeBron James and heading to Los Angeles.
Should LeBron James Be in Free Agency Meetings?
Former NBA star Scottie Pippen sounded off on the Lakers impending free agency on ESPN’s First Take and stated that he believes top players will want to meet with LeBron this offseason. More specifically, during the meetings in free agency, Pippen cited the interest of many players to hear where James’ head is at currently.
It makes sense for LeBron to be involved in the free agency conversations to some extent. The players which Los Angeles recruits will need to be very strong fits and that may be tough to find. With that said, the current group of names who are expected to be on the open market features plenty of high-profile options, so the Lakers will have a number of opportunities to persuade top talent to come to town.