Rumors have started to go crazy over the past few days with just about every big name free agent in the 2019 class linked to the Los Angeles Lakers in some degree. While most of the class has never shared a court with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, his former teammate in Cleveland, is available and arguably the best running mate LeBron has ever had in his career.
A slick ball-handler and elite shot creator, Irving was a crucial component to Cleveland’s 2016 championship and hit – hands down – the biggest shot in that postseason. While the two initially had a falling out at the end of their Cleveland tenure, they publicly repaired their friendship this season with LeBron acting as a bit of a mentor towards Kyrie.
LeBron James to Recruit Kyrie Irving, Duo ‘In Touch’ Ahead of Free Agency
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, LeBron has been in contact with more than just Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler. With Kyrie Irving spotted visiting Los Angeles just a few days ago, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that he could have been meeting with his former teammate to discuss his future free agency plans.
“I think Kyrie is considering the Lakers.” Windhorst stated, “And he’s had some conversations with some people, and I know he’s in touch with LeBron. And LeBron’s going to make a run to recruit him. I don’t know if they can win that over. Kyrie and LeBron’s games are matched together beautifully, there may not be another player that LeBron has ever played with who fits to playing alongside him more than Kyrie.”
“Unfortunately, their personalities do not. And so I don’t know if their personalities could survive it again.” Windhorst would add, “But if they can somehow see a way to play together, it would be a game-changing transaction in the league.”
Los Angeles Lakers Cap Flexibility With Kyrie Irving
Being eligible for a max contract, the Lakers would need to dedicate a significant chunk of their remaining cap space towards Irving. In fact, by bringing on a max free agent, the Lakers are making a major sacrifice to the depth on their team as they will only be able to afford extremely cost-effective options or players willing to accept some of a cap exception.
The Lakers also need to consider if they plan to pay up for any of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, or Kyle Kuzma. All come off the books in the next two years and are likely to be looking for a fairly steep raise once their deals are up. While the Lakers COULD keep them all around as they own the bird rights, that would require them dipping DEEP into luxury tax.